Exactly how long Dublin Food Co-op has been looking for a permanent home depends on when you start to count.
“It’s been a long-term vision of the food co-op to move away from rental to owning our own space,” says Sam Toland, the secretary of the co-op. “So we have control over our own destiny.”
You might say it’s been as long as 10 years, even though the current board has been looking since Christmas, he says.
Recent developments around Newmarket, where under plans put forward by the owners the co-op’s current home faces demolition and renewal as a craft brewery and studio-style offices, put that back on the agenda, he says.
This time, the search has been successful. The Dublin Food Co-op plans to open in its new home in Kilmainham in November, in a spot next to the LimeTree Café, opposite Kilmainham Gaol.
They’ve borrowed money from Community Finance Ireland and from a credit union, Toland said. “We’ve bought it outright.”
Kitting It Out
At the moment, the co-op is fundraising €20,000, trying to pull together some extra cash to get the new place done up, says Toland.
“It’s basically everything to do with the fit-out and the move,” he says. “We’re doing a brand-new fit-out, and we’re emphasising zero-waste, packaging-free. So there’s quite a lot of new shop furniture that we need, to really do that properly.”
So far, the fall out from the planned redevelopment of Newmarket has differed for the businesses and organisations that had been there.
The Green Door Market has moved out to Bluebell. Dublin Flea put out a recent post, saying that it has struggled since May to find a new home, working hard but butting up against rejections and closed doors, or losing out to other bidders.
Toland says the Dublin Food Co-op has had to make compromises, too. Their new home is smaller than their current shop, and it doesn’t have a wider arena for market stalls.
But there is a square out front with potential for the future, says Toland. “There’s huge opportunities there for outdoor markets.”
There aren’t loads of food places around the new location, and the community is not very well served in terms of shops, he says: there’s a small Tesco, a Spar and a pared-back SuperValu.
On Tuesday, some people ducked in and out of the LimeTree Café, but it was quiet in the next-door premises that the co-op is moving into.
They’re hoping to be open there at the beginning of November, says Toland. “So long as there’s no delays in the construction.”
Owning their own place should mean that the co-operative can build up wealth too now, he says. “The whole idea of a co-operative is to make wealth among the members, so it’s been a long-term vision of members over the years.”