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Business Continuity in Lockdown: How Kindness Skyrocketed Our Sales

April 16, 2020

The current turn of events is an ill wind indeed but for us, it’s proven to be an extraordinary testimony to the thoughtfulness and caring of others – and we have the sales to prove it.

I am Chief Scone Gnome (!) of The English Cream Tea Company based in rural Essex, UK – and we send out chilled hampers of fresh Afternoon Tea by speedy courier UK-wide. We also create and post out gift tins of brownies, cakes, shortbread, teas etc to the UK and abroad. Cheery treats indeed!!

We normally tick along at a very moderate rate of orders with occasional gentle surges such as Mothering Sunday or Christmas. That is until You-Know-What hit our shores.  Since then, we have been completely and utterly ‘slammed’ with orders – so much so, that some days we are oversubscribed. The Scone Gnomes have never seen anything like it!

But here’s the thing. Very few people are buying these goodies for themselves (though you are most welcome to!)… and about 90% are being bought as a treat for someone else. We know this because of the charming, sweet gift messages that are created by the senders for us to include. There are messages to Grans, Mums, Aunties, couples, birthday peeps who’s parties have had to cancel, recovering dears just out of hospital, children working hard on their new homeschooling, poorly folks, saddened or lonely ones… or just those being missed by their nearest and dearest. We are effectively, sending out hugs in a box/tin or hamper! All the messages are about love, support, comfort, hugs and ‘can’t wait to see you again’. It’s heartwarming stuff.

One of our gift tins is a little £17.75 Care Package filled with scones or cakes, jam and tea. One day last week as we were processing orders, we worked out that 2 were being sent by a Mum/Grandma to her grandchildren with love and praising them for being so helpful to Mummy and Daddy. Then we noticed 2 tins being ordered for that very same Mum/Grandma to be sent to her (and her elderly mother living there too), from her daughter/grandchildren sending their love, thoughts and hugs! Neither knew the other was sending the same gift to each other. Sweet!  

We’re also sending out on behalf of businesses to their beleaguered staff… or for virtual business calls. We might change the name Care Packages to Zoom Boxes – because they’re being used for virtual tea party meetings, business catch-ups or social gatherings so much!  Talking of which – I’m also a professional speaker and on Easter Sunday I was booked to give a talk on afternoon tea history/etiquette for a UK-wide online group of 120, all with their afternoon tea set up in front of them. 

Now, I don’t know if you’ve heard that some Zoom meetings (and similar online methods) are being hacked currently by louts shouting abuse, showing their private parts and causing general mayhem. Well, ahem, the group I was giving the talk to on Sunday was, in fact, the British Naturists – people who like to be undressed ‘as nature intended’ (though as guest host I was ‘allowed’ clothing!). I was half hoping that the Zoom infiltrator hackers would indeed invade the meeting to try and shock with their nudity, just to see the shock on their faces!

That aside, we are actually working very long hours at the moment to get all these treats baked, packed and dispatched – but it’s our privilege to help people send their kind and loving thoughts out to others. 

As a young girl, I always wanted to be a Fairy Godmother – and here I am, pretty much fulfilling that wish!

Jane Malyon

Chief Scone Gnome for The English Cream Tea Company

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