'It could've been a disaster': Cannock garden centre owners thank community for support

A garden centre, bar and cafe has gone from "strength to strength" thanks to the support of the community.

Owners of Fallow Forest, Mark and Andrea O'Neill
Owners of Fallow Forest, Mark and Andrea O'Neill

Mark and Andrea O'Neill are the owners of Fallow Forest in Cannock which opened two years ago.

As well as selling a variety of plants, shrubs and garden items, it also boasts a cafe and popular licensed venue offering live music, private parties and afternoon tea.

Mark said: "We closed on March 18, just before the official lockdown announcement and unfortunately had to make our staff redundant.

"Since then myself, my wife Andrea and sons Tyra O'Neill and Kia-Storm Hanson have been working hard as a family to keep it going. We adapted the business in a matter of days.

"It could've been a disaster.

"We saw that other garden centres were offering curb-side delivery, so we launched a website for people to place orders online within a 10-mile radius and also promoted it on our Facebook page.

"Immediately it went through the roof and we were doing 60 orders per day and sold every single one of our plants, we've sold hundreds.

"People were so happy to see us when we did deliveries even just to have a chat through the window."

The centre has now reopened for customers and also offers a takeaway service for the cafe.

Mark added: "After the announcement that we could reopen, I didn't want loads of people rushing back, so instead of posting that we were reopen I took away the closed sign and opened the gates.

"In a matter of days through word of mouth people had learnt we were reopened and we have had massive support from the local community and so much positivity on our Facebook page.

"We have to say a massive thank you for the people who have supported us and for their understanding, compliance and respect of the rules, as well as other customers.

"I am using my local shop more, supporting local growers, getting my compost and coffee beans locally - it's all about pulling together."

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