The Dispensary in Walkden had just a few months of standard business operation before Covid struck and changed everything.

The zero-waste store offered refills of all manner of products. However, thanks to being designated as ‘essential’, the store’s owners do not qualify for any financial help from the authorities

Fay Watts was a teacher for 10 years before starting up The Dispensary in Walkden town centre. It now stocks all manner of refillable items.

However, life under lockdown 3 is proving to be tough. Fay said:

“When I first started, it was just cleaning products, toiletries, and eco-friendly products”

“I was only open a few months really before I had to close. In that first lockdown, I managed to get the first grant.

“During that first lockdown, that’s when I decided; actually, because I got the grant, I was going to start stocking food and use that money.

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Posted by The Dispensary on Friday, 15 January 2021

“Then there was the second lockdown, I was stocking food then so I stayed open, couldn’t get any help.

“It wasn’t as strict as this, people were still out and about and people were still visiting the shop.”

“Never did I think this would be going on for more than a year”

Essential shops are not eligible for extra help, and as a result of The Dispensary selling food, Fay couldn’t receive any:

“I’m not a Tesco. I’m not an Aldi. I’m not a Lidl. I’m a little tiny shop, an eco-friendly shop where my profits are very small anyway.

“There must be somebody or something out there that I can access. It’s surprising where you can get strength and ideas from such a bad time.

“Never did I think this would be going on for more than a year”

Councillor Bill Hinds, lead member for finance and support services at Salford Council, said:

“We recognise it’s a very difficult time for businesses and the council is doing all it can to help.

“The government sets the rules about financial support for businesses which we have to work within but we will contact the owner to discuss her situation.”

Fay has been keenly aware of how the individual lockdowns have affected her business:

“This time, it feels a lot more like the first lockdown, in regards to people being out and around. My part of the centre, it’s very quiet.

“I haven’t been in business [for the minimum] for three years. It’s a very small handful of people that have been keeping me going really.


  1. Shops like Fays are the future…If its all hands to the deck when Coronavirus is involved then surely a little more effort can be made to ensure that establishments like The Dispensary are still here when the virus is defeated.Support your local high street businesses they are owned and run by ordinary people like you and me… just trying to make the world a better place…They are not faceless profit guzzling conglomerates like Tesco and Aldi.

  2. I called in this shop just before the first lockdown. The lady who runs it was very helpful and we had a lovely chat. I promised to call back, but then covid hit, I am unable to shop now but as soon as I can I will definitely be visiting.

  3. Maureen Tasker

    So wrong.With big established named stores going to the wall,what chance have these small specialised shops have?! 😠

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