By Rose Barrett
Little did historian Tim Carey realise what a furore his tweet #Adoptashop would ignite. A regular on Sunday Miscellany, and author of several history books, Carey tweeted he had decided to adopt three shops or cafés that Dublin would be worse off, without them.
He said he walked around Dublin one Thursday, and noted how quiet the streets were. He wondered would some of the independent retailers survive the pandemic and visited some of his favourite ‘haunts’ among them.
He revealed: “I’m not in Dublin that often now, and it was so quiet. I went to a café I’ve been going to – Simon’s Place – since I was in college, used to be Marks’ Bros. I value that place and walked a mile to it.”
The historian then made his way to Books Upstairs, which he hadn’t visited in months. The enormity of it all struck him, would these places be here when Covid-19 is gone? He later visited Hodges & Figgis, another bookstore.
Books Upstairs opened in 1978, and was, the author felt “one of the most significant things to happen in the history of Dublin City, in terms of commercial life. Dublin without Books Upstairs is devalued”.
Louisa Earls, shop manager at Books Upstairs, told the Dublin Gazette: “We were really delighted at first, and didn’t realise how much it would take off, get retweeted and shared.
“We noticed a little increase in footfall the following weekend. We can’t track exactly where business was coming from but that weekend was busier with a lot of people tagging us online, and lots of people referring to the campaign in the shop.
“We are down 40-50% on a normal September, and we’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices on staffing the shop. We feel like we’re treading water, trying to hang on in there. But we will be launching a website in the next month, a first for us. We’re hoping that will make a difference, in advance of Christmas.”
The popular bookstore is located on D’Olier Street and incorporates three floors, the basement for bargain books; the ground floor for regular stock and upstairs, is their café and selection of second hand books. See Books Upstairs on Instagram, Twitter and FB for updates.
Cathy Moore who lives in Dundrum doesn’t know Tim Carey but thought the campaign was a great idea, a manageable feat.
“I’m an archaeologist, and director of ‘Archaeology and Built Heritage’ with offices based in Smithfield,” said Cathy.
“I’d like to support independent shops too so I went into Design Lane in Temple Bar at the weekend. There I bought a gift voucher, but there are some divine gifts there, all Irish hand-made jewellery, crafts, knitwear, glass and ceramics and cosmetics, art and some gorgeous millinery! Definitely the place to go for a distinctive hat by John Shevlin.
“I’m going to do my seasonal shopping in independent retailers, they’re the shops that really make our city interesting and they’re suffering badly with reduced footfall during the pandemic.”
“I also went into AllRoom on Liffey Street. It’s a home and kitchenware shop, it’s there for years and has everything you could ever need for your home. It’s the sort of place you’d find a specific saucepan lid or replacement utensils along with delph, crockery, tins and pans, a real treasure trove for useful household items!”
For Sherri Brennan, director of Skip Trans in Rathcoole, supporting the #Adoptashop is a no brainer.
Sherri, along with brother Cornelius Brennan runs Skip Trans, a skip hire and waste management company with 25 employees.
Based at Greenogue Business Park, Sherri stated: “We have an O’Brien’s franchise here in the business park and a Daybreak Convenience Store & Deli. The management team made a conscious decision to support these local services. We could make teas, coffees and lunches here but we purposely are supporting the two catering outlets.
“In general, Skip Trans have made every effort to support all local businesses re our supplies and maintenance. Typically, we would have all our puncture repairs done by a small operator, Prime Tyres. We use JL Fenton for parts and P Hennessy’s, a smaller garage in the locality for repairs and service.
“#Adoptashop is an extension of that – support your local, independent traders and retailers – we do at Skip Trans!”