Fish and reptile shop busier than ever despite Covid-19 pandemic

For Amwell Aquatics in Soham, the Covid-19 lockdown resulted in the fish and reptile shop’s busiest months to date - so much so that none of their six full-time members of staff were furloughed.

In fact, throughout June and July, they were so busy that they had to take on extra staff.

“Initially, we had a service desk at the front door so we’d do their shopping for them,” said manager Lee Whitwood.

He added that Amwell did reduce staff levels from five to two for a fortnight in the early stages to keep everyone safe.

“We then opened the doors with restrictions on numbers and had massive queues outside!

“I’ve not experienced a weekend day like it,” Lee added; “the first Saturday we opened people just wanted pets.”

Having also offered home deliveries - “we went to Bury St Edmunds, Bishop Stortford” - Lee thinks their unexpected boost in trade was because “it was just us and supermarkets open” and the fact that people were “getting new hobbies.

“They were spending so much time at home - either in their gardens or with their existing fish tanks or they’ve been looking for a new pet,” he says, adding that Amwell’s tortoises have been “big sellers.

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“Ponds were going crazy as well and a lot more people bought fish tanks, too, which will hopefully see further sales too.”

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Although initially, Lee said it was “quite scary, things picked up gradually and got busier”.

Towards the end of lockdown, he says, “we were pretty steady as people realised we were open because we had animals and supplied food for them”.

Looking ahead, he says as long there isn’t another lockdown “we’ll be able to maintain what we’re doing now, which is good”.

And while Amwell does not currently have a website, Lee says “it works for us” because “it’s much easier to talk to people face to face about things like this.

“It’s a very specialist subject and people like to ask a lot of questions.”

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Amwell Aquatics would hold open days once or twice a year.