Where used to be brown leather seating lining a pristine white wall is now nearly floor to ceiling wood shelving filled with Stoney Creek’s La Dee Da sauces, fair trade organic coconut cream, single origin chocolate and locally produced raw honey.
Under new management by Bikeables, Dundurn Market’s few wooden crates of produce have expanded into a larger selection of locally grown produce, in addition to organic fruits and vegetables from outside of Canada’s borders.
Rhubarb, lettuce heads and bags of mixed greens grown by farmers in Westdale, Strathcona, Dundas and Copetown are placed next to mason jars filled with fresh salads, kimchi, sauerkraut and strawberry ginger kombucha made in house.
The recipes are created by Sara Wiseman, the head chef and market manager, in a small yet productive kitchen on the second floor. Her prepared lunches, dinners and treats for the market café are inspired by her experience as a baker and vegan chef for nearly 20 years.
Wiseman joined Bikeables co-founders Justin and Roger Abbiss to fill the void left over by the original Dundurn Market that closed last December. Together they reshaped the space to fit the Bikeables’ business model as well as meet the needs of the Dundurn and Kirkendall neighbourhoods.
Bikeables is no stranger to the neighbourhood. The bike-powered produce and goods delivery service launched two years ago out of a passion for connecting local farmers, bakers and product vendors to customers. The Hamilton-based business has its biggest cliental base right in Dundurn.
Dundurn Market was the perfect physical space to embody the values and mission of Bikeable’s online store and direct to consumer model. However, the physical storefront doesn’t take away from their online presence, but rather operates as a second sales channel meant to foster interaction and trust with consumers.
“In Canada, people are still a little bit cold to the idea of buying groceries online compared to places [in Europe] … People like to come in and feel and touch the food they’re about to buy. We can instill some trust in their experience here and that way they may be more likely to buy online a later time,” explained Justin Abbiss.
What makes Bikeables and the Dundurn market unique compared to other local grocers in Hamilton is their full cycle approach towards making every step in their model, from sourcing their goods to delivering it to their customers’ doors, as sustainable as possible.
They are dedicated towards working with urban farmers in our own backyards as well as bigger farms in Hamilton, like Manorun Organic family farm, and local businesses like De La Terre Bakery, Foundry Ice Cream and Terra Teas.
Produce that hasn’t sold and is nearing its shelf life will be tossed along fresh ingredients and made into prepared meals in sustainable packaging to minimize waste and promote healthy and environmentally friendly eating habits.
The cycle isn’t complete without their fleet of delivery bikes. Inspired by European businesses, Bikeables’ two-wheel rides are from a manufacturer from the Neatherlands. The cargo bikes, or bakfiets as they’re natively known, have the cargo placed in front of the rider as pushing the weight instead of pulling is a lot more efficient.
Europe’s slow food movement and sustainability practices have inspired the kind of pride Bikeables and Dundurn Market wants to take in the way they service the Hamilton community. The growing business has recently added an electric car to service areas that are more difficult to reach by bike.
“I think it’s just the nature of who we are. We’ve always been trying to do things in the most sustainable way that we can. It’s not always easy, driving the bike is more green but sometimes it’s not a lot of fun. I think we are really stubborn at the same time,” explained Abbiss.
Busy young families who are looking for a convenient way to eat healthy tend to be their main clientele, but Abbiss encourages students to also pick up local eating habits. He has ideas for bike-powered mobile markets to engage the community.
“I understand that it can be out of reach for some people… but I think it has to come from within. You have to [develop] a desire to support local… you have to put importance on wanting to do that,” explained Abbiss.
Bikeables and Dundurn Market are working towards increasing the affordability of their service and making it accessible to more people in the community. Running a local grocer in an ethical and sustainable way isn’t always easy, but it’s the right thing to do.