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Written on 1st November 2020
So the worst fears are now confirmed, England will go into full lock-down (except the education sector). This is clever because looking at the government official graphs we can see the rise in COVID infections was when the schools went back. The mortality (thankfully) in children is low but its those they pass it onto that as the age bands mature, the data changes. So this lockdown is clever in the sense it will create 'herd immunity' with the schools etc and bring the virus home to us all that are self isolating through being locked down. It will be dubbed as a sweet success, and of course the leisure and hospitality sector will STILL have the blame for the previous spike (with this highlight pubs being blamed).
Since 4th July we have worked flat out in our efforts to ensure that ALL of our locations have been COVID-19 safe and secure. We have greeted and seen hundreds of people with ZERO reported cases or issues with staff or customers.
The first lockdown was a low blow and something that only determined and passionate people could rise up from. Most businesses are driven by passion, belief and determination, often with a family as the driving force.
To have a second lockdown with a financial package that would only suit a cake shop in a rural village, we find ourselves in a very dark time. We have spoke of what worrying times we felt was ahead of us and now they are here.
We have worked flat out behind the scenes, including getting shipping container storage units ready, machine clearances done and with us and our refurbishment and sales side ready for action. This is something that will NOT save us, it will merely help us.
For many people out there right now this is a very frightening time. Many have lost their jobs, lost their businesses and lost their assets, and the worst is yet to come as this '4 week lockdown' reveals itself to be potentially longer than this (especially our sector).
Whilst watching the speech by Boris it was crystal clear to see that Christmas may be experienced in a home setting but not a commercial venue. It was clear to see that the 4 week lockdown was actually 4 weeks lockdown until REVIEW. Would it be silly to think that after another harsh lockdown we could all sing 'ding dong merrilly on high' whilst supping a beer? It would certainly be astonishing if the lockdown 'switched' back to near normality.
All of us, owners of businesses, employed or self employed must now get ready for the fight of your lives. This will be the most hideous and grueling situation that we have seen but somehow, with 'might, power and grit' we must all fight on.
The high street will see devastation like we cannot even contemplate, the government cannot keep paying money it doesn't have but with no national income the losers will be the government in the long run so it will take a great mind to balance the books.
We plan to overnight transform our house and section of our arcade into a temporary workshop where we will 'do what we can' to keep the wolves at bay. There is no value to us sitting idle, we must all as individuals and parts of teams 'do our bit' for our family, loved ones and those who have shown ultimate loyalty in 'lockdown one'. There is always somebody much worse off than ourselves so lets TRY and put the energy (which may be negative at the moment) into being our rocket fuel to power through.
The biggest challenge we all have is the seemingly inevitable trapdoor situation where the government decision takes us by surprise. Looking at the situation forensically the second lockdown has shocked me due to the poverty versus virus; which is the biggest killer? I fear that the second lockdown is creating a much greater and more harrowing lasting problem in the name of mass poverty and deep depression.
Whatever is going on and no matter how hard it gets we MUST all rise up and shine our own beacons to be seen and not forgotten. Its going to be a rough ride for everyone, and we need to all be focused and never stop believing.
To try and keep you all upbeat, or less bored we will be keeping you all in the loop with NEVER SEEN BEFORE unit footage and pics and some of our hidden gems we will be restoring whilst we churn out various generic machines that have come in clearances. We will keep you updated to what is happening and whats coming in and out.
Our youtube channel reelfruits will show at LEAST one new video a week and this will also be the place for some behind the scenes action that ensures that the classic amusements of Mr P's and Reel Fruits delivers the best leisure experience.
We will use the time to get some classic games into the arcades, but there is doubt on the future of what arcades that will include. We must be aware that like a great monument such as the Sphinx in Egypt we are getting battered by 'storms' and the elements, dramatically reducing our appearance. This will lead to the potential of spoiling of certain locations. We have already seen Maidstone Reel Fruits dramatic refurbishment and reboot cancelled.
The arcades and how WE run them is consuming and hard going. We run our percentages sky high, give great hospitality and pump so much back to all of our customers to ensure we have the greatest RTP (return to player) on all platforms. We are not rich and never do we aspire to be, we wish only to provide and deliver the BEST amusement experience that we can imagine.
When Amelia and I started this journey over a decade ago we never could of imagined how large our classic dream has become. We treat the four arcades, and more so its patrons like family, and we will dig deep to continue to keep the pulse alive in all locations but we must protect Chatham and Bognor Regis as priority. These locations must still stand once the situation in the world has passed.
Any of you that know us well will see that the riddle and answer of what we plan is written in this very waffle, however when the captain cannot steer his own ship it becomes difficult to ascertain certain seas ahead. Many will blame Boris Johnson for this mess, but it is actually probably thanks to him that we have been able to trade this long. An earlier lockdown would of been as disruptive as this one, but with the leisure sector needing as much of a boost as possible the October half term was a welcome period to trade.
The virus is amplified by the media and if there was no 'breaking news' or 'tweets' every few seconds then perhaps we would not be in such a panicked state of play. Yes there is a virus, like many times before in history, and yes it will pass. There will be casualties along the way, and this as sad as it may be is inevitable. We must be very careful that the damage caused by the threat of the virus will not become worse than the virus itself.
If you fear something you cannot beat it, but if your bold and brave you have every chance.
All the best,
Dave, Amelia, Ruby and Scarlett xxxx