The coronavirus outbreak has sparked panic buying of toilet paper and cleaning products in countries across the world, but one UK businessman is determined to spread some happiness among the anxiety and confusion.
Rob Braddick, 48, who owns Braddick’s Holiday Park in Westward Ho!, Devon, in the southwest of England, has filled the toy claw machines in his amusement arcade with two of the country’s most sought-after sanitary products.
Arcade customers could previously try their hand at grabbing “Frozen 2” or “Peter Rabbit” toys from the machines, but no more.
“They got evicted this morning,” Braddick said of the toys, replacing them with toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Visitors can now pay 50p (65 cents) for three goes on the toilet roll grabber, or £1 ($1.30) a go for Carex, which Braddick described as the “Rolls-Royce of hand sanitizers.”
He told CNN that the decision was born of a desire to cheer people up in uncertain times.
“It’s a bit of light relief with everything that’s going on,” he said. “Hopefully it will raise a smile, which I think everybody needs.”
Around the world, travel plans have been severely disrupted, and tens of millions of people remain in quarantine as part of global efforts to combat coronavirus.
Supermarkets have seen shortages of toilet paper and hand sanitizer as anxious consumers stockpile the products.
Braddick said the family business, which has been running since 1932, has received more than a dozen calls from potential customers who say they don’t want to travel abroad for their holidays and would rather stay in the UK.
As for his own coronavirus precautions, Braddick said staff have been told to wash their hands every half hour, which is particularly important for those handling money in the arcade.