BID Business of the Month – Incom Gaming/2PIGS

2PIGS has been the alternative music venue in the heart of Cheltenham since the early nineties and continued to offer live music and non-mainstream club nights up until lockdown. A second business, Incom Gaming has grown inside the 2PIGS from trying to find usage of the space during the day. Through Nick Binding’s (co-owner of 2PIGS and Incom Gaming’s) love of miniature wargaming and board games, a gaming club was initiated which gained a lot of interest and grew into a Friendly Local Gaming Store (FLGS).  The space downstairs has turned in to a bi-functional business, where people would come to shop, play games and enjoy a drink during the day and evenings, then attend a gig and party by night. This in turn has created a symbiotic relationship within the building.

Both businesses stood out during these difficult times for their quick response in upping their national and local delivery services in supplying the general public with lockdown family games as well as adapting a night-time economy business in to a functioning e-commerce with a local drinks delivery service.

Cheltenham BID’s Maria Allebone, Digital and Communications Exec speaks with Nick Binding, co-owner of 2PIGS and Incom Gaming as they are named May BID Business of the Month.

MA: What was your first approach to a solution to keeping your businesses running during lockdown?

NB: Incom Gaming already existed as an online selling portal pre- lockdown at www.incomgaming.co.uk, so everything for that was already in place but we wanted to start selling our 2PIGS drinks in an attempt to keep some revenue coming in for that side of the business.

Luckily, we have a big social media presence with the 2PIGS, so we built a website for the new delivery service at www.2pigs-club.myshopify.com. We still continue to take orders in the week for Friday and Saturday deliveries.

MA: Tell us a bit more about Incom Gaming. How was business during lockdown?

NB: Other similar businesses to Incom Gaming had stopped trading at the beginning of lockdown but our online store stayed open and we carried on advertising on social media. People were finding us and realising we were still shipping, so our online sales went through the roof. Our delivery sales increased tenfold. We went from three to five parcels per day pre-lockdown to 50/60 orders per day during the height of lockdown. We offered a local delivery service as it was a way of supporting our local community during this difficult time. If you wanted to pay for postage you could but if you didn’t mind waiting a few days we would come and drop your parcel off to you. It seems logical if I was out making deliveries for Incom gaming, we could offer deliveries for the 2PIGS as well.

MA: When did you have the idea to start the 2PIGS drinks local delivery service?

NB: It was around three weeks into lockdown when we realised this was not going to be a short-term thing for the 2PIGS not being open. Even though Incom Gaming was doing well we had a lot of stock from the pub that could potentially go out date and then be worthless. We decided to sell the stock to keep some revenue coming in. As much as the Government grant came in quickly and we have had support from the Brewery, we still have insurance, rent, wages and other operational costs of running a venue need to be paid.

MA: Do you think lockdown will change the way that people shop in the future?

NB: It’s definitely changing it now but that is because of the implementation of the lockdown rules. The interesting one will be when the Government start to ease the social distancing rules. Will customers still consciously distance themselves or happily stand in a queue next to each other?  Will people still shop online shop as much or visit shops when they reopen? I don’t know. It has become the norm for customers to try to avoid going anywhere and getting close to anybody, so I see very disruptive shopping patterns until social distancing rules start to ease.

MA: How are your preparations going for your potential reopening?  

NB: We are looking at re-opening Incom Gaming as just a shop on June 15. We are not going to open seven days a week, we are still planning how many, and what days to open. We have done the maths on our square footage as to how many customers we can safely fit within our shop area and have created a designated area for people waiting in the shop. We are following government guidelines and using the gifted Cheltenham BID’s 2 metre social distancing stickers outside the venue, plus we are looking at signs and posters inside the shop too. The online shop has been so busy and with the news of all non-essential shops being able to open on June 15 we have to start playing catch-up to get back to opening. We have to re-stock all the shelves and complete a big clean of the venue. We have installed a hand sanitiser dispenser immediately on entry for customers to use on their way in and way out. We have more, but they are for when we can open more and when we can offer gaming within the pub. We feel the next stage will be that the 2PIGS operates as a ‘gaming pub’ until the night-time economy can open and we can offer live music and gigs again.