We talked to: Brits R U.S.

We talked to Brits R U.S.

We recently had a lovely chat with Alan Greaves of Brits R U.S. in downtown Northampton. Find out what he had to say about the business and our amazing community in Pandemic Times.

How are things going overall for the business in these uncertain times?

While foot traffic has been greatly reduced, our online side has picked up quite a bit. It’s not totally balanced, but it has been a huge help. Shipping stuff is more work, so I’ve been putting in more hours, but you do what you have to do right now as a small business owner. I consider myself lucky because, being a food store, we were considered essential and could therefore remain open this entire time. We’re getting by, which is more than a lot of other people right now. I originally had two other stores--one in Pittsfield and one in Albany. When my lease in Albany was up, I was offered this space in downtown Northampton. I threw everything into a U-Haul, and moved my inventory here, where I initially had a bigger space, and considered creating a tearoom/cafe. I decided against that ultimately, though, and decided to lease to Jon and Nina Aronstein, who occupy the other half as Mill River Music. I consider myself very lucky to have such good neighbors as Jon and Nina. I’ve now been here for four years. While I struggle at times for room for shipping these days, I like my space overall and the rent is getting paid every month, which is a huge relief.

Do you think people generally feel safe coming into the store?

I do. We have a little sanitation station with hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, gloves, and extra face masks if people forget--though I’ve not had that happen yet.

Are people adhering to mask-wearing rules regularly, or have you encountered some challenges?

Yes, people are definitely adhering to wearing masks, which I appreciate.

What positive things have you learned during this crazy time?

Customer loyalty has truly been the biggest positive. If people can’t come to the store to shop, they call in their orders and will pick up curbside. I’ll also literally deliver to people if they need me to--they pay over the phone and I can drop their items off on their steps. You just adapt to what works for people, and I so appreciate that customers are trying to give me business from wherever they can. I love the people here, and I love Northampton. Even though I live in Pittsfield, I’m here so often that I do my banking and shopping here. I pick up takeout food to bring home for dinner to support our local restaurants. It’s so sad to see the businesses that are closing, and I’m hopeful for the new ones that are opening and hope they succeed. I greatly appreciate the support I have received, especially in this time, and so I try to give it back to local businesses.

Is there any other information you’d like to share about your business?

I’m trying to stay as upbeat and positive as possible. Everyone has their own challenges, and you just have to keep going and take each day as it comes.

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