Stuck at home, we’ve all become keen to get our home and garden in order. With the shutdown, all shopping, other than grocery, has completely shifted online. Retailers that would have normally considered their business to be an experiential one, essential for customers to visit in store to see their offerings and avail of their expertise, have had to adapt, and fast.
Online sales have jumped at The Organised Store – normally open at Dundrum Town Centre – though managing director Olive Donovan says these figures are coming from a low base and nowhere near those of normal in-store footfall.
The restrictions have seen traffic to the website of Celbridge-based The Orchard spike by 1,000 per cent with the number of online purchases up 650 per cent in the space of a week, says its marketing director, Phil Donnelly. The company is delivering barbecues, rattan garden furniture, some gazebos and warming chimineas.
Lisa Duffin of bed linen boutique Bottom Drawer, at Brown Thomas, has seen similar uplifts with spikes in the store’s online shop which she launched five years ago. “They’ve been bigger than Christmas and the annual January sale. Bed linen accounts for 70 per cent of the traffic and most of these buyers are repeat customers already familiar with the luxe linen labels.”
Even those with websites that are not as sophisticated are managing to continue to communicate with their customers. Bryan Maher of The Garden House in Malahide has seen a 65 per cent increase in the sales of compost, bedding plants and seeds, that he can deliver throughout the greater Dublin area. Here, instead of buying online, you have to use an older method. You email the shop, remembering to include a telephone number and he will call you back.
This human touch is crucial, Donovan of The Organised Store says. “Talking on the phone is essential, even if just to let them know that we don’t have a certain product and to suggest another,” she explains.
So when shopping online and communicating via email, don’t forget to include your phone number.
Over a 14-day period Horkans, the garden centre group, went from doing about 100 orders to 2,500, says its managing director, Paraic Horkan, also resident gardening expert on Pat Kenny’s Newstalk show and on Ireland AM. “Grow your own projects are selling well. The supply of seeds and vegetable bulbs, veggie pots and beds are through the roof.”
The veggie bags are great for renters, he says. “You can easily plant potatoes, greens or strawberries and take them with you when your lease is up.” They come in a couple of sizes, €20 for the small and €39.99 for the large, and stand about two feet tall. Best of all they come with a zip-up top to protect the plants from local moggies using them as a toilet. If you plant spud tubers now, he says, they will be ready for digging in early July, and he suggests you dig only what you need for that meal. Ditto lettuce and other greens. To minimise food waste, just take the number of leaves you need for each meal as you need them. You can grow these in galvanised steel, self-contained and self-watering, bed units, pictured, from €299 upwards.
While demand for plants and shrubs remains high – it's normally 50-60 per cent of Horkans business across its four shops – he has difficulty transporting under the current restrictions and so isn't selling any. horkans.ie
LIGHT UP THE OUTDOORS
If you want to linger in the garden, invest in outdoor lighting to amp up the mood. Home Store + More has an affordable solar-powered range that is available for home delivery. It includes poly rattan Palermo portable lanterns that range in price from €9.99 to €34.99; string lights in warm white that are perfect to drape over a fence or hedge, €9.99; and parasol lights, €6.99, that attach to the ribs of the underside of the parasol. For those with four-legged feline or canine friends, there’s also a set of four, paw-shaped path-finders, €5.99, that would make a lovely gift from a grandparent to a grandchild. Delivery is free with spends over €50.
At the top end of the shopping scale is this outdoor Contardi Calypso floor lamp, pictured, that is the very essence of a real outdoor room. It costs about €1,600 with delivery between five and six weeks through Wink lighting. The UK-based site Go Modern can also deliver but you will have to call its Kings Road shop and order over the phone. homestoreandmore.ie; wink.ie; gomodern.co.uk
LIVING ROOM REFRESH
If you've done a big declutter in the living room, you will feel differently about the space, and new accent purchases like cushions and a rug underfoot can transform the look of a room and herald in a seasonal switch-up. Hedgeroe Home sells a range of silk ikat cushions in fashionable earthy tones. Pictured are bolsters, 50cm by 35cm, cost €95 each; 45cm squares, €167 each; and linen 53cm squares, €83 each; with throws from €281 and blankets, from €186, all in stock and available for delivery. When the sun shines you can bring these outdoors. The chair, pictured, is vintage and used for styling purposes only and not available to buy but there is a similar one available through JYSK stores, where online orders resume on April 30th. hedgeroe.com; jysk.ie
If you’re in the market for garden furniture, several shops offer a one-person, kerbside, home delivery service, which means if you order a lot of stock, you may need some help getting it from the pavement into your home or back garden.
If you have a garden that gets evening sun, you could create a complete garden room with this upscale Torino gazebo, pictured. The light but stylish looking frame can be assembled by just one person and is from Celbridge-based The Orchard. It costs €4,975 and the frame includes a shuttered roof that you can open to let the sun in when it shines. The Oakridge elliptical dining table and all-weather rattan dining chair set, €2,895, includes a pair of recliners while a seating set similar to that pictured, includes a two-seat sofa, pair of armchairs and coffee table, in the same material, for €1,695. Orders can be made online, via email or over the phone.
At Dunnes Stores Carolyn Donnelly's Eclectic Morocco parasol, €195, is a whimsical buy that will let you armchair travel to sunnier climes and Paul Costelloe's Living range for Dunnes Stores channels the cafes of Paris with its smart bentwood style seat, €120, pictured. This item is now sold out, according to Dunnes. theorchard.ie; dunnesstores.com
Everyone’s talking about sleep. One way to improve yours is a seasonal bedding refresh, replacing heavy winter duvets with those of a lighter tog weight. New bed linen also makes a huge difference to the sensual side of sleep. Last week Bottom Drawer at Brown Thomas had its best online sales days in its five years of ecommerce. Some 70 per cent of its sales has been in bed linen with most purchasers repeat customers who already know what they want and it’s the Frette Hotel collection, pictured.
"It is smooth and cool to the touch, easy to launder and found in the world's premier hotels from the Ritz in Paris to the Plaza in New York," explains its managing director, Lisa Duffin. The design's classic two-row embroidery trim, in white on white; white on bronze; or white on charcoal grey, is a look copied by many other brands. During its spring promotion, which runs until May 10th, the range is reduced by 30 per cent so a king-size duvet cover is now €279, down from €399. brownthomas.com/brands/bottom-drawer/
If you’re in search of good quality cleaning products, head to the virtual store of Lenehans of Capel Street where you can buy heavy duty products from DriPak clean and natural bicarbonate soda, 500g, €3.99 that you can use to deodourise carpets, upholstery and even bins to the Pink Stuff multi-cleaner, €2.99, a favourite of Instagram cleaning heroine Mrs Hinch. The firm also sells bars of carbolic soap, €1.50, a product not seen in public in decades. The Covid-19 crisis has seen it making a return to a sink near you.
Specialised cleaning brushes, microfibre cloths, great for picking up dust, and spray bottles that customers use to make up their own sanitisers are all selling well at The Organised Store. Laundry accessories too as wash loads have increased with the kids at home and not in uniform. The Brabantia Wallfix, a V-shaped drying line, €139.95, is a smart buy. It affixes to a back wall. When open it will give you 24 metres of garment space. It closes to become a neat block and will give your washing that natural, freshly laundered smell.
If you need a power washer to spruce up paving, fences, moss-infested outdoor walls or to wash the car, there is a drop expected at Littlewoods Ireland on May 7th. The multi-tasking device costs about €299.99, ex delivery.
Aldi stores do not deliver but its recent drop of practical garden essentials is worth a mention. It includes a two-in-one cordless grass and hedge trimming shears, €24.99, a spring coil-shaped garden hose, €9.99 and even decorative aggregate for borders and paths, €4.99 for a 15kg bag. lenehans.ie; organisedstore.ie; aldi.ie; littlewoodsireland.ie
BOTANNICALS TO GROW AT HOME
If you find virtual shopping thirsty work, consider buying yourself or someone in your life a little “thinking of you” gift. The Orchard in Celbridge is offering a local delivery on its plants, so if you’re within a 30km radius of it, you can order this really smart gin cocktail kit by Unwins, €14.99, that furnishes you, or the gin drinker in your life, with a windowsill box of botannicals to try. It includes orange-scented thyme, mint, basil and lemon balm. Let’s raise a glass to maybe getting one of those in the post.