GRASMERE Gingerbread is using its online store to stock products made by more than 20 small supplier businesses affected by the collapse of tourism in the wake of Coronavirus (Covid-19).

The closure of Cumbria’s farm shops, delicatessens and other tourism-related outlets – along with the cancellation of country shows and markets – has hit food and craft suppliers hard.

“A lot of them – many one-person businesses and family firms without websites who supply products to us – have seen their sales drop significantly,” explained Joanne Hunter, a co-director of Grasmere Gingerbread.

In a burst of collaborative energy, businesses in Cumbria have now created new products to be sold through the Grasmere Gingerbread online store.

“Whilst we already sell products online by the likes of Huttons Chocolates, The Penrith Toffee Shop and others, it’s fantastic to be able to promote entirely new lines,” said Ms Hunter.

The company is also appealing to other local artisans to get in touch if they think their products would be suitable to add to their range.

Their website’s Working Together page profiles 22 Cumbrian suppliers whose products they sell – either in their actual shop in Grasmere or online store.

Stephen Keogh, who runs the Kirkby Stephen-based Country Flavour, is now working on a new range of flavoured fudges.

“We are so grateful to Grasmere Gingerbread for working so hard to expand the online presence of our products,” he said.

“We have been hit hard by the closure of local markets and small wholesale outlets.”

Similarly, Gareth McKeever, co-director of Pure Lakes, has developed a new 65% alcohol hand sanitiser for Grasmere Gingerbread which launched this week.

“We have relished working with them to produce a new hand sanitiser that is particularly relevant at this time,” he said.

Workington entrepreneur Marie Pearson’s stationery business Invite you to the do has been hit by cancelled weddings.

“Yet, she created an inspirational ‘gingerbread man pocket hug’ card for us which we are selling online and it is proving really popular,” said Joanne.

“In times of crisis, such as Foot & Mouth and flooding, Cumbria pulls together and we want to work effectively with others to get through Covid-19.

“It could be years before things get back to anything resembling normality so we have got to be pro-active and explore every commercial avenue to keep other businesses afloat and all our employees in work.

“Any other artisan producers not currently working with us should get in in touch as soon as possible.”