We are always preaching about using local suppliers and getting everything as close to home as possible, so we thought it would be a good idea to open a cafe and grocery shop near us that did exactly this!
In 2012 We found an empty space at Dean Clough… a lovely ex-mill building in Halifax, West Yorkshire that houses an art gallery, shops and loads more. 3,000 work here during the day, there’s a gym with 2,000 members – all with nowhere nearby to eat or shop. We were very careful to choose a location that had this need but didn’t impact on existing businesses, we’re also happy to tell customers where they can buy the produce they’re enjoying direct from the local supplier.
Anyone who has opened a physical business already knows this too well, but to say it was a mammoth undertaking really does understate things! We went from an empty shell to a fully functioning co-operative in just two months. We wanted somewhere that local could dine-in or buy local produce when and where it is more convenient for them – with the plan to open from 7am until late at night, hopefully enticing supermarket shoppers to come here instead and enjoy more local great goods!
The co-operative, local produce & food shop and cafe was unsurprisingly called Totally Locally Cafe and Grocery. At first, the hardened professional contractors looked bemused at us blithering idealists but by the end of it they were really excited themselves at the concept and the impact it could have on the area!
The shop promoted and supported other shops & businesses in Calderdale, and was a chance for local producers (and other shops & cafes!) to sell their stuff, promote themselves through it. It had information on other businesses there too, along with events and demonstrations. Also on display was our Totally Locally branded coffee (that kept us going during the work) and awesome photographic portraits of our suppliers for the cafe walls.
Lights were installed, floors painted and a kitchen and shelves installed. We didn’t get much sleep in the run-up to opening but this finally happened in July 2012. We had so much help from some amazing people, all buying into our rather unusual concept. The project was funded by the PRG Grant from Calderdale Council and Totally Locally Ltd.
The cafe launched with a Pound Party – £1 for a fresh coffee and a Totally Locally bun (the 200 buns went very quickly!).
* Update: the cafe has since changed name to The Engine Room *