A vibrant new store and cafe dubbed The Pantry

A vibrant new store and cafe dubbed The Pantry which is at the heart of a social enterprise in Invercargill’s South City, has been given the seal of approval by the local community.

An initiative of South Alive Ltd, under the umbrella of the South Invercargill Urban Rejuvenation Charitable Trust, The Pantry will provide a significant community asset as a business run on a commercial basis to support the ongoing viability of South Alive and its many initiatives.

The Pantry, a 400sqm building, was previously a Bin Inn store and is adjacent to the trust’s existing community park, vegetable garden and basketball court developments.

Community funders and the Invercargill City Council have rallied behind South Alive to make the vision of a community hub, costing a total of $1.2 million, a reality.

The ILT Foundation has injected $200,000, the Invercargill Licensing Trust $25,000 and the Community Trust of Southland $50,000 and a $350,000 interest-free loan.

The Invercargill City Council will repay $200,000 of the loan over the next five years, with South Alive to pay the remaining $150,000 starting in year six.

The city council will also contribute by creating angle parking, laying new paving and erecting fencing.

South Alive director Janette Malcolm says South Alive started in 2012 with a brief to rejuvenate the South Invercargill area with strong community liaison and volunteer involvement.

“South Alive decides on the projects and then it seeks funding.”

The opening of The Pantry in May followed infrastructure projects such installing specially designed street lights, a whale tail sculpture at a playground entrance, repairing and cleaning up the area’s shopping mall and various social initiatives.

“The levels of community pride had increased substantially and we needed a plan to become selffunding, at least in terms of our operating costs.”

Within the need for self sufficiency was the need for a central hub for community activities and support groups and to find a space for South Alive’s office.

The former Bin Inn building and business, placed on the market and bought by South Alive in December 2016, created the perfect opportunity to combine its commercial and community acitvities in one place.

“We thought we could run the business in the front half of it and in the back half we could construct a community centre.”

Another community trust, Koha Kai, which works with special needs adults to develop their cooking and culinary skills, was also looking for a space to operate a commercial kitchen from.

Operating The Pantry profitably will allow the trust to continue to meet its existing and future objectives of engendering community pride and resilience, training, hosting workshops and fundraising activities, diet and nutrition education, providing job experience and many other initiatives.

It opened in May following a significant renovation which included creating a welcoming and brightly coloured exterior, revamped interior and a cafe.