A LIQUID deli hopes to put the fun back into shopping with its reopening in York city centre.

Demijohn, at 11 Museum Street, is among the many independents which have thrown open their doors following months of closure, with new safety measures in place.

Angus Ferguson, managing director, said: “It has been the most extraordinary time. Just opening the door is a huge step in terms of feeling like we are going back to normal. It was a very happy moment.”

He said that during the lockdown they had posted gifts bearing poignant, personal messages from customers to others.

“There are some really heart-wrenching messages that we write on bottles and send out. People have been very ill. When you look through the key hole, it is heart-wrenching.

“I do think in the new normal, if we can bring back a sense of happy fun that might be a very good thing for everyone."

Angus and his wife Frances run Demijohn, which has been open since 2009 and invites customers to pick their own re-fillable bottles then choose their favourite food or drink to go inside. Lockdown favourites have been a Seville Orange Gin, fruity and balsamic vinegars, along with non-alcoholic drinks such as lime and chilli cordial.

Demijohn was already providing a mail order service when the coronavirus struck. It also offers a click and collect service.

“When the shutters came down on March 23 we went into overdrive contacting our customers and saying ‘if you can’t get to us we can get it to you’,” said Angus. “It really worked.”

However, he said, the shutdown, supply issues and a reduced staff had created a problems meeting the demand.

“Somehow we did it. We are just over the moon that we were allowed to reopen and and come back.”

He said he was determined to create an enjoyable shopping experience that allowed people to relax and feel safe.

“We are all about fun. Our most loyal customers have come back to refill. We have served people we haven’t seen for quite a few months and it is a very happy time re-engaging with some lovely people.”

Demijohn has installed safety measures while retaining its quirky character.

“Customers will be very discerning over the next few months, and quite rightly. They don’t want to be put in a situation where they don’t feel safe. Customers might come once but we want them to come again and again.”

Angus said the weather played a big role, with people queuing outside. Another issue was the lack of tourists. “That’s probably two thirds of the customer base in York that’s disappeared. This is a serious challenge for business.”

York Press:

The Press Love Local Business campaign is promoting local shops as they emerge from the lockdown, and recovery efforts being made to support businesses.