"We're part of a vibrant independent supply chain," Hop Hideout scoops 'Independent Retailer' at Sheffield Retail Awards
"It’s been a year of huge challenges – we never could have imagined it,” says Hop Hideout owner, Jules Gray.
“When we launched, seven years ago, we were one of the first drink-in beer shops in the country; somewhere you could come and have a third of beer, have a chat, and buy some lovely beers and ciders.
"In 2020, we couldn’t do any of that, so we – like everybody else – had to reassess, and figure out how we could carry on.”
Last week, Hop Hideout was named the winner of the ‘Independent Retailer’ category of the Sheffield City Centre Retail Awards.
The 2020 awards received a record number of entries and nominations, with people across the city keen to celebrate shops big and small, and the people who have kept them running efficiently this year against all the odds.
The judges’ statement read: ‘Hop Hideout is a fantastic example of an independent retailer with a great ethos to supporting the local community.
‘It promotes the vibrancy of the city with its own events which benefit the wider business community.’
Jules says: “When everything first happened back in March, and we were forced to close, my priority was family and friends, and then, of course, thoughts turned to the business.
"I was checking updates daily – what can we do? What do we know? What should we do?
"When things did start to reopen towards the summer, I kept my focus on Sheffield home deliveries and mail orders, as I felt I could control that – with distanced deliveries, out in the open – we knew so little about this new virus we were up against, and were all just learning on the job.”
And Jules says there were times she was overwhelmed by the feeling of responsibility for her customers.
"When I delivered something, I must have cleaned it three time before I packed it up,” she recalls now, with a smile.
"I worked really hard to make sure there weren’t any concerns of anything being passed along; I felt it was better to be over-cautious.
"I was so grateful that we could continue to get products out to our customers though, especially to people sheltering at home.
"It felt like we were able to bring a bit of joy at a time of such sadness and heartbreak across the country. I felt we were supplying a lifeline to normality.”
Speaking of the award, Jules adds: “I was surprised and genuinely humbled to hear we’d won.
"It’s been a physically and mentally exhausting year, but I remain extremely proud of the work we’ve been able to do.
"I was so grateful to be here in the Kommune in the past year, as it’s been great to be surrounded by other vibrant independents in this food hall – there’s been a great deal of support.
“I’m also so pleased that we’re a part of this fantastic independent supply chain in Yorkshire.
"In surviving this pandemic as a business, we’re then paying breweries and cideries and other local suppliers and businesses, and helping them to survive.
"That’s what it’s all about.”