The Dunes Larder, which plans to open by spring 2024, will join the well-loved Balranald Campsite and Dunes Cabin.
Anne and John Allan MacLellan are coming to the end of a busy tourist season at Balranald Campsite in North Uist.
But, instead of taking a break, they’re working hard to set up a brand new resource for the island: a farm shop stocking produce from local crofters.
The Dunes Larder will operate alongside the campsite and the Dunes Cabin, a food and drink kiosk that’s already a local favourite.
The Outer Hebrides is known for its livestock, especially its many flocks of sheep.
But, as Anne notes, it can be “really difficult” for people on Uist to directly purchase locally-sourced meat.
“We’ve got a croft ourselves, so we’ve got cows and sheep,” Anne says.
“We thought there was an opening to have somewhere to sell our own produce, [and] also to sell local produce.”
But their vision isn’t of a traditional butcher’s shop.
Farm shop to be open ‘any time, day or night’
The shop will use a vending machine system, where customers will be able to buy produce at “any time, day or night”.
As well as being open 24/7, using vending machines means the shop won’t have to be staffed full-time.
Employing people all year on the island can be “challenging”, Anne says.
But she and John Allan believe that providing a service year-round is important.
“It’s not just a tourist thing,” she says. “We’re hoping that we can build up a good customer base of locals as well.”
“We’ve got Bayhead Shop up the road from us. But when the shop closes at six, we’re still going to be open.”
‘Space for other people to sell’
As well as providing easy access to local produce, Anne hopes the shop will help the community in other ways.
“We’re also hoping to offer space for other people to sell,” she says. “People could do a pop-up shop within our own shop – maybe small craft producers that don’t have their own.”
Anne says she and John Allan are aiming to have the shop open by spring 2024.
“We want to be really comfortable that everything’s working fine before we hit the really busy season.”
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