A UNIQUE grocery shop which has survived a world war, the advent of online shopping and dominance of supermarkets is adapting to ensure it continues to serve its loyal customers throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

H Gunton’s traditional grocers in Crouch Street, Colchester, has been run by four generations and has served the town for more than 80 years.

Its current custodian Phil Gunton, great grandson of founder Herbert, is steering the shop through a unique crisis.

“We’ve been here since 1936 and I feel we must be doing something right if customers keep coming in, generation after generation,” he said.

“I can’t remember any situation that compares to this.

“I’m not old enough to remember the war.

“We’ve survived as we have a different type of offering to the multinationals and a different shopping experience.

“You can buy how much you want of many products rather than what the supermarkets offer pre-packed.”

H Gunton’s started out life as a hotspot for coffee-lovers, established at 81 Crouch Street and known locally as the House for Coffee.

It was said the aroma of roasting coffee could be smelt far and wide, bringing customers through the doors to try one the shop’s delicious blends.

From then on, H Gunton’s built up a reputation for peddling unusual and high quality foods with top quality personal customer service.

When the business acquired 83 Crouch Street in 1960, the shop expanded to include a large cheese counter and delicatessen, stocking everything from pies to pâtés and salads.

Gunton's has faired well because of its refusal to follow the crowd and through its ability to adapt.

The shop has built up a steady gift hamper business, which grows each year.

There is a personal touch which eludes many chain stores.

This shows in Phil’s method of continuing through the coronavirus pandemic, with the business now operating a home delivery service.

Regulars and customers in need of groceries can either place an order through the letterbox, email, call or text the shop with requested items.

“Customers been supportive, sharing our update on social media to others in the CO3 area,” said Phil.

“Getting stocks of many basics is very sporadic.

“Yeast is running out, but should be back next week, while flour is not too bad currently as supplies are starting to come through.

“Pasta, tinned and dried pulses and vegetables, except tinned tomatoes, are very scarce.”

The shop is not allowing customers inside and staff coming to work are keeping their distance from one another.

“We’ll be fine as long as I don’t have any more staff off,” said Phil.

“We are being as safe as we can be, given the situation.

“We are trading below normal levels, but ticking over, of course probably making a loss.

“But there are many locals who can’t get out and need small, regular deliveries, which aren’t catered for by the supermarkets.”

Requests for delivery must be from the CO3 postcode area and include a name, address and phone number.

For collections, the shop is taking contactless card payments through the front door.

Staff ask customers to stand back two metres once payment is approved, at which point the order will be placed on the front step for collection.

Calls are only to be made between 9am and midday, while texts, emails and notes can be left at any time.

For further information on Gunton's delivery and collection scheme, and to take a virtual tour of the shop to browse, visit guntons.co.uk.

To call for booking and further information, contact 01206 572200 or 07543 679640.

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