Common Values Emporium in Halifax to close mid-June
About 20 people with disabilities are part of training and employment program at store
After nearly two years in business, Common Values Emporium, a store run by the non-profit Affirmative Ventures, will close its doors mid-June.
About 20 people with disabilities are part of the training and employment program at Common Values.
Twenty-three local entrepreneurs — the majority of whom have physical or mental disabilities — sell their products at the store, located at the corner of Agricola and Cunard streets.
The store charges entrepreneurs a minimal amount to help cover the overhead cost of the store, but doesn't take a percentage of the vendors' profits from sales.
It's a business model Mike Little, Affirmative Ventures' director of planning and development, says was not sustainable with the amount of rent the group was paying for its location.
"We downsized back in January to try and alleviate some of that pressure from the finances. But at the end of the day, we just hadn't found a successful way of dealing with the amount of lease," says Little.
He says Affirmative Ventures is not renewing its lease, but is looking for more affordable options, including a possible site in Dartmouth the group owns, but has yet to develop.
"There's going to be affordable housing units in there and also a space for social enterprise," said Little. "So that space of social enterprise would be an ideal space for Common Values. But it's going to take us ... a year or so to have that developed."
In the meantime, that leaves entrepreneurs like Wanda Pike, who lives in the Valley and sells her products at Common Values, without a store front.
"This is going to hit many people financially as well as emotionally," said Pike, who has a physical disability that causes chronic pain and limits her mobility.
For many new entrepreneurs, the store serves as a testing ground for their business models. It "helps incubate ... their product ideas," says Little.
While most of the entrepreneurs come to Common Values through Affirmative Ventures and Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network, the store also features a few other local products.
"This is where I make the most of my profit," said Leah Lively, owner of Le Lus Pretty Things jewellery.
"For me it's going to be a big loss because this is where my jewellery has gotten most of its attention."