Farewell to Antoinette’s Bakery: the plight of small businesses in 2017
Antoinette’s is a gluten free bakery on Kevin Street in Dublin. I say “is” but from Friday (30 June) I’ll be saying that Antoinette’s WAS a gluten free bakery on Kevin Street. Sinéad set up Antoinette’s in her parents’ kitchen in 2011 before opening on Kevin Street. This week, she emailed customers to say goodbye before closing up for the last time.
The hubby is coeliac and Antoinette’s is a daily stop-off for him for a coffee and a scone. It’s worth pointing out that their flat white was one of the cheapest in town at €2.20.
It’s where we got our wedding cake and cupcakes to celebrate our first anniversary.
In her email to customers this week, Sinéad said “Unfortunately, keeping a business like this afloat in Dublin City in 2017 has proved too great a challenge”. It would take a lot to unpick this statement but rising rents, high insurance costs and rates are all factors. Even a drastic increase in the IMRO licence fee for playing music in retail spaces took its toll.
After getting Sinead’s email, hubby called in to buy his last flat white and say goodbye. The woman serving him told him that they’ve noticed a big decrease in custom in the last month. It’s unlikely that coffee consumption in Dublin has decreased, even allowing for the holiday season. The reality is that, more and more, we’re buying our coffee from large chains than we are from independent, Irish-owned coffee shops.
Sinead’s entrepreneurial hard work should be supported. These are the places we want to succeed. She created jobs and paid taxes at a time when the Irish economy badly needed both. Using her talent, she spotted a gap in the market and created an incredible product. Her cakes and pastries are delicious, and the highest compliment I can pay them is that you would never know they were gluten free. That’s not something you can say about most GF foods.
Is there more the bakery could have done to stay afloat? Probably. More marketing and diversification into sandwiches and lunch foods would certainly have helped. Is there a policy response from the Government that would help? Some sort of intervention to help small retailers stay open in our big towns should be explored if we want to retain some sense of unique identity as well as creating jobs.
But, I’ll also say this. It’s up to us, the customer. If there is a small shop that you like, make sure you spend your money there. It’s the only way of keeping it going.