Two Dundee city centre businesses will close within days as rising costs and fewer customers are draining a charity’s savings.
Learning disabilities charity Uppertunity runs Serendipities Café on Union Street and ReBoutique upcycling shop on Castle Street.
They were started to give Uppertunity’s clients – which also include people with mental health barriers and autism – the opportunity to learn skills and experience work.
But the businesses were also intended to be profit-making to support the charity’s core activities of providing creative workshops, mentoring and skill development programs.
“Significant” cost increases in the past year, including rent and energy rises, have led to the charity eating into its savings to keep them open.
Both venues will close next weekend.
Staff were informed of the decision this morning. It is understood that around eight jobs will be lost.
The businesses provided work experience opportunities to around 40 volunteers and Uppertunity clients a week.
Finances no longer adding up
Uppertunity, which has its headquarters at Dudhope Castle, was founded in 2015 by support worker Danielle Gaffney du Plooy who felt there was a lack of meaningful activities for her clients.
Serendipities opened four years ago and ReBoutique followed last year.
A joint statement from Danielle and her co-manager Caroline Bentley explains the decision.
It said: “Rising costs and a decrease in income across our organisation has led us to review how we can make sure we are meeting our mission aims and can support our community in the future.
“We have been having to make some very difficult decisions.
“Over recent months, we have found that the finances at both Serendipities and ReBoutique just haven’t added up.
“Our rents, utility bills and other costs have gone up. At the same time, footfall and income have gone down.
“We have tried our very best to plug gaps from our savings but it has now got to the point where we can’t justify that anymore.
“If things keep going as they are, we will start to risk the viability of what we do at Uppertunity.”
Uppertunity founder ‘heartbroken’
Danielle said she was “heartbroken” at making the decision and said many tears had been shed.
She said energy costs had increased from £300 to £900 a month while food costs, rent and wages have also risen.
She said she hopes to bring the businesses back in a more sustainable way in the future.
In the meantime, additional catering classes will be provided at Uppertunity for clients who previously worked in the café.
“The heartbreak isn’t losing two physical spaces,” she said.
“It’s for our clients who are losing this as part of their daily routine, working with others and working with the public.
“But we are confident that we can regroup and find a way to involve them here at Uppertunity’s main base.”
The managers said their priority is their staff as they start a consultation period.
ReBoutique’s last day will be Saturday August 19, with Serendipities closing the day after.
The managers said: “For our last day at Serendipities, our full menu and specials board will all be pay what you want.
“We’d love people to come in and celebrate all that we have achieved over the past four years.”