In little over a week, two Shawbost shopworkers have been catapulted into fame across the globe – all because they want to buy a van.
Frustrated by what he sees as Tesco’s stranglehold on the mobile grocery market, Michael Fitzpatrick launched a campaign to raise £5,000 for a van to help the Shawbost Shop and Cafe ‘take on the big boys’.
Michael, who started leasing the former Raebhat House/Inn Between premises in February this year, has launched an online crowd-funding campaign, asking the public to pledge money to help him reach his total.
To raise awareness of his campaign, he started posting a series of videos online, together with his only full-time employee, Kenny ‘Butcher’ Mackay, from Bragar.
The duo’s on-screen rapport and off-the-cuff humour has struck a chord with its online audience. Over 13,000 people from all over the world viewed their most recent video.
“We had one woman who watched it in Indiana, in the USA,” laughed Michael. “She said she loves our videos, and to keep them coming.
“In all honesty, I don’t know how they’ve become so popular. We’re just chatting and being ourselves.”
Michael says the reason for the online campaign is because he has exhausted all other funding options.
“Because I am middle-aged, I can’t get any start-up grant funding,” he said.
With Tesco vans dotted around Shawbost during the day, Michael feels he is entitled to try his hand at providing a mobile service for the local community.
“I’m not doing this to compete with Tesco, as we all shop there,” he stressed.
“All I’m asking is for people to give us a go as well.”
For anyone wishing to pledge a donation to the cause, various novelty gifts are offered in return, ranging from a signed photo of Kenny the Butcher, to a week’s self-catering accommodation in Shawbost.
“If we don’t manage to achieve our goal of £5,000 by the middle of October, then anyone who has pledged will get a full refund,” said Michael.
The Shawbost Shop and Café is leased from Horshader Community Development.
The business represents a new challenge for Michael, who worked for 13 years as a Social Worker with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
“Most people buy a motorbike when they reach my age in life, but I decided to become a shopkeeper,” he laughed.
If you would like to donate to Michael and Kenny’s campaign, visit http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/shawbost-village-shoptaking-on-the-big-boys.