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Arts Collective hopes people shop local during coronavirus lockdown

PUBLISHED: 11:26 09 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:22 09 April 2020

A basic food box costs �29. Picture: Nick Letchford

A basic food box costs �29. Picture: Nick Letchford

Nick Letchford

An arts collective has set up a food and drink box delivery service so people can shop local and support independent businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

Jaguar Shoes Collective and its venues employ a vast ecosystem of people many of whom are freelancers. Their delivery service will support the tree of people who rely on the business to earn a living. Picture: Nici EberlJaguar Shoes Collective and its venues employ a vast ecosystem of people many of whom are freelancers. Their delivery service will support the tree of people who rely on the business to earn a living. Picture: Nici Eberl

Pub Owner Nick Letchford set up Jaguar Shoes Collective 20 years ago and his family business, which owns pubs in Shoreditch, Hackney and Dalston, has played a major part in supporting east London artists and musicians.

“We started back in the day when Shoreditch was mostly bag and shoe wholesalers and we were lucky to become part of a community of artists, designers, photographers and fashion people and our venues grew out of that.”

Since the lockdown the collective has used its strong community network to get its delivery service up and running.

Nick got local businesses involved and says behind venues like his are a tree of people relying on their customers to make a living. The delivery service will help to pay staff - many of which are freelancers.

Nick invites artists to transform his venue every few months, or whenever they can afford it, with their art and design. Pictured is the work of three artists called Tripod City. Picture: Nick LetchfordNick invites artists to transform his venue every few months, or whenever they can afford it, with their art and design. Pictured is the work of three artists called Tripod City. Picture: Nick Letchford

“We as a business have to find the ability to subsist and want to be able to continue to pay all our employees; from suppliers, promoters, artists, and bands to cleaners, DJs, door security, sound engineers, maintenance, chefs and all of the other people our ecosystem supports.

We’re doing our best to try and get as many people involved to keep the local economy moving but it requires a lot of adaptation and public support.”

Customers can start with a basic box filled with a week’s worth of fruit and vegetables plus milk, butter and bread to be collected or delivered.

Alcoholic drinks can be added as well as juices and other food stuffs from local independent brands like Pickle House, Hackney Wild Loaf or the East London coffee roastery, Climpson and Sons.

Jaguar Shoes Collective hope their food box delviery service will encourage Hackney residents to shop local and support independent businesses struggling to survive and pay freelance staff. Picture: Nick LetchfordJaguar Shoes Collective hope their food box delviery service will encourage Hackney residents to shop local and support independent businesses struggling to survive and pay freelance staff. Picture: Nick Letchford

“If you think, I’ll buy through my local rather than [a big supermarket] like Waitrose that helps. Waitrose will make it through this [but] there’s no guarantee that we will or any of the long list of people we support,” Nick said.

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The owner admits it’s been tough but says they have had an amazing response from customers.

“It’s intense for a generally high-turnover, high-overhead business to suddenly stop dead and that has far-reaching ramifications.

Launched in 2001, Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes is the collectives'  flagship venue. Its name derives from the 1980’s bag and shoe wholesalers that once occupied the building at a time before bars and art galleries, DreamBags JaguarShoes provided the template for a now abundant breed of drinking establishment. Picture: Nick LetchfordLaunched in 2001, Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes is the collectives' flagship venue. Its name derives from the 1980’s bag and shoe wholesalers that once occupied the building at a time before bars and art galleries, DreamBags JaguarShoes provided the template for a now abundant breed of drinking establishment. Picture: Nick Letchford

[But] people are realising it’s important to be nice to each other, that we need each other and there are a lot of ecological positives.”

He said he’s not sure if his businesses will survive:. “It’s the toughest fight we have faced yet.”

The owner of Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes in Shoreditch, The Victoria in Dalston and Hand of Glory in Hackney Downs, says many businesses like his are not covered for a pandemic by a standard insurance plan.

The government will be granting £25,000 grants for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 but many London businesses might not be eligible as they fall above the threshold.

Nick Letchford champions music and art In his three Jaguar Shoe's pubs. Cheerleaderz play at The Victoria in Dalston. Picture: Nick LetchfordNick Letchford champions music and art In his three Jaguar Shoe's pubs. Cheerleaderz play at The Victoria in Dalston. Picture: Nick Letchford

The proposed government loans are also not yet available and subject to an application to a bank requiring a 20% personal guarantee.

“At this point we are doing everything we can to help our staff, and our suppliers, so we can be there at the end, but it is nowhere near enough. We don’t know at this point how our business will endure,” Nick said.

To donate to Jaguar Shoes or invest in future drinks through their beer bank click here.

To order a food box click here .

Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes interior transformed with art by Charlie Kwia. Picture: Nick LetchfordDream Bags Jaguar Shoes interior transformed with art by Charlie Kwia. Picture: Nick Letchford

For the latest coronavirus news from Hackney and across London follow our live blog here, visit our corona virus page, or join our Facebook group here.

Or to find more groups, networks and organisations like this in Hackney providing support during the coronavirus lockdown visit our There With You Essential List.


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