If you asked me last week what my plans were for today I probably would think for a bit, check my diary, check my calendar and my phone before replying: “Oh just revising”. Revision for my AS Levels appears to have taken over my life. One thing I certainly would not have said was: “cutting the ribbon to open the new Waitrose in town”. But life has its oddities.
As a possibly one-time Waitrose shopper (certainly not a fanatic) I was completely unaware that a massive new branch was nearing the end of its construction in town. In fact, on reading the email asking me to come along with a few others to represent the college, my first thought was: “We have a Waitrose?!”. But sure enough we do.
I met with the other two students and the staff who were going outside at 7:30am. This early wake up was certainly a little painful, but there was a brisk ten minute walk to the shop to brighten us up. On seeing the size of the place I was slightly embarrassed not to have known of its existence- not only was it a ginormous building, it also had an equally humongous new cinema and shopping quarter next to it. The complex is so big that I do not think I can even use my sight as an excuse for not knowing about it. We were met by J, department manager within the branch and then the photo frenzy began. The local press had come along to capture the moment, and we (both guide dogs and humans) found ourselves not knowing who of the people clutching cameras to look in the direction of. The college had been invited to do the honour of opening the store after the chairman of John Lewis came along to a college event with our local MP. It was at that point, whilst standing in the car park holding a green ribbon with the others from my college, that my Principal turned to me and asked if I would like to do the honours. Me. The child who had “Practice using scissors” in her homework diary nearly every week in primary school was now cutting the ribbon to a brand new supermarket. I was honoured to say the least.
The city isn’t the largest, nor is it known for being a commercial focal point, so a Waitrose arriving on our doorstep was a big deal. The store was by no means crammed but it was certainly very busy for 8am on a Thursday with people looking adoringly at the cheese counter and admiring the cakes on the many stands. We met the Mayor and Mayoress who described it as a ‘refresh’ for the city. I certainly learnt a lot whilst roaming around the shiny new shop- Waitrose makes a big effort to use local produce, sells Marmalade Vodka and incredibly beautiful looking cakes. After having a look around we all went into the café and had a coffee and were kindly provided with delicious pastries and biscuits. Something which really came across was the absolute passion that the staff have for the company. How it was fair, thoughtful and prosperous. I don’t think I have ever met supermarket employees so proud of their shop. We were told by J how he had been there for 14 years, ever since he was sixteen, and how many people stayed for 20+ years. He rolled off the history of the company; knowing it like the back of his hand. The opening will likely be in local papers tomorrow, but from what I could tell everyone seems very happy with the new addition.
So welcome Waitrose- may your marmalade vodka be riskily breakfast worthy, your cakes be creamy and your staff be always smiley.
Thanks for a fun morning.