Good Mood Food and Globe Artichokes

by Beth

It is now more than six months since we opened our doors and it has been an absolute whirlwind! We have learned so much. We have laughed, we have cried, we have had to google what to do with some veg we weren’t familiar with (globe artichokes, I’m looking at you!). In our first six months of trading we took over £75,000, from more than 7,500 transactions. That’s an incredible number of people shopping on West Street, a street we were told again and again no one would come to. But we believed that the people of Carrick wanted more shops in our town centre and something different from what the supermarkets could offer, because they told us they did.

Last spring, 434 people, most of them from Carrick and surrounding areas, invested in Carrick Greengrocers, the first community owned shop in Carrick, by buying community shares. Since then, those members, their friends and other members of the community have come into Carrick Greengrocers over 7,500 times, shared our excitement and bought something we have in store. Every single transaction has been an investment in the belief that Carrick deserves better.

an image of fress cabbages and cauliflower in a basket
Fresh cabbages and cauliflowers in store

We have produce and products in store from 24 local suppliers, all of whom are receiving a fair price for their work, and being paid on time, every time. We are so proud of the relationships we have developed. From Chris Dobbs, who was our first supplier and the person who helped us coin our strapline ‘community owned, locally grown’, to One Small Seed who supply us with beautiful flowers that are grown here, not flown here. As well as a wide range of fruit and veg, we stock jam, chutney, sourdough, kombucha, vegan cheese, apple juice, coffee, vegan buns, honey, dulce, cordials, mixers, sweets, butter, flowers and hot sauce, all from producers in Northern Ireland, and many of whom are from County Antrim.

We have three staff members and nine volunteers who keep the shop running and looking great. If you are a customer, we are so grateful for the belief you’ve shown in us. And if you’re not, we’d love you to call in one day and see what we do. It feels different to shop with us. We’re about more than profit. We’re about building community. We’re about regenerating Carrick town centre. We’re about showing that it’s possible to do business in a kinder, fairer way.

We opened Carrick Greengrocers because it’s difficult for local growers and farmers to compete with cheap imports and loss leaders in the supermarkets, and still be able to pay their bills and make enough for a decent life. And because we know that people want to be able to buy nutritious, fresh, local food but the options just aren’t there.

We also use wholesalers, because some staples don’t grow in Northern Ireland and because the way our food system is designed means it’s hard for small scale growers to make enough to live on. It is our hope and our belief that as we grow the market, we will have more and more local produce in store. We’ll be tracking this as we go, so we’ll be able to see next year and the year after if this is happening.

a cartoon of many people working together with the text Proud to be a co-op
Carrick Greengrocers is proud to be part of the co-operative movement

We are proud to be a community owned business. We are proud to be part of the growing cooperative movement in Northern Ireland, and work within the cooperative values of solidarity, equity, equality, democracy, self help and self responsibility. We know we are so much stronger when we work together.

You are always very welcome at Carrick Greengrocers, whether as a customer, a supplier, a  volunteer or a member. We look forward to seeing you soon.