ARMR Store: The What, Who, How and Why
My name’s Raph. In 2019, I used a start-up loan of £10k and some investment from my family to open ARMR Store – a cafe, health-food shop and community space, all in one. It’s a lively and inviting place. Our customer base is local, loyal and varied. Everyone gets a warm welcome at ARMR.
An important part of the ARMR store ethos is giving back to the community where we are based. Here are just some of the things we’ve been doing in the community since we opened:
- Offering the space for a food bank during the pandemic
- Providing mentoring for local young people
- Providing a platform for local independent brands, circulating money within the community
- Sourcing local produce where possible rather than big national chains.
- Providing employment opportunities to local people
- Put money back into the local community
- Providing culturally appropriate free food to those in need during the pandemic
- Providing a no cost space for women's well being and men's mental health groups
Ardwick, where ARMR Store is situated, is one of Manchester’s most deprived neighbourhoods. It’s characterised by high levels of unemployment and low levels of self-employment. Research shows that people living in deprived communities believe that owning their own successful local business is an unattainable aspiration.
I’m a big believer in ‘If you see it, you can be it’. It wasn’t that long ago that my background and my situation would’ve led many to write me off. I had no formal education. I fell short of my goal to become a professional footballer. Age 19 I found myself spending time in prison.
But now, thanks to hard work and tireless support, I’m running a thriving independent business. I want my story to inspire others and to help create opportunities in my community. I truly believe that Ardwick is more than just deprivation, it’s an untapped source of potential.
The ARMR Store ethos is best summed up by our tagline “Bringing better options to the community.”
So what comes next?
Currently, I do most of the cooking for ARMR Store at home before bringing it into the cafe to serve customers. It's not ideal. I need a fully fitted kitchen for ARMR so that I can serve more people, more quickly; expand the menu; extend the opening hours; and continue to defy expectations and grow my business.
ARMR Store has benefited from some investment from three local individuals. This money has helped keep our doors open during a difficult time for business – and so now we need some help.
I want to take ARMR Store to the next level. Your investment will allow ARMR Store to provide:
- Training and mentoring opportunities for local young people, across areas such as cooking, hospitality, retail, event organisation and business management.
- Expanded operational hours, with food served in the evenings.
- A space for events showcasing local artists, community leaders, business people and other inspirational figures.
- A space for events focused on physical and mental wellbeing.
- An expanded menu of freshly made, culturally appropriate vegan food for an area disproportionately served by fast-food outlets.
- Support for local non-profit Eat Well MCR, along with other grassroots organisations.
I’ve put together a whole host of rewards for people who donate. Some can be bought outright, while others will be awarded at random to people who’ve donated – no matter how big or small their donation may be.
Thank you so much for your support, it makes a real difference, not just to me but to the area where ARMR store operates.