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Boxing clever

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A FLAVOUR OF BALLINA The Ballina Box is a collaboration of ten different local businesses.

The Ballina Box is one local man’s effort to highlight local businesses

Ballina
Edwin McGreal

It was Monday, November 9 at 3.30pm and Liam Henry, a parliamentary secretary for Dara Calleary TD, looked across the street from the constituency office on Pearse Street in Ballina.
Four businesses which would normally be open were shut because of Level 5 restrictions and with the light fading on a winter’s afternoon, Henry felt the doom and gloom.
“The four premises were in darkness, the evening was getting dark and I just turned to Angie (O’Hara), my colleague, and said ‘Jeez Angie, this would actually get you down, this would depress you’.
“And I just said to her that there has to be something that can be done, just something small to give things a lift,” Liam recalls.
He had observed businesses in the town doing their best to fight against the tide.
He went home that night and, over dinner, mentioned it to his wife, Anna-Marie Flynn. In half an hour the concept of a ‘Ballina Box’ was born and they brainstormed about contents that night.
Liam was on the move on Tuesday morning, ordering boxes, getting a design from Connacht Print in the town and went around discretely on the Tuesday getting potential content for the box to see what would work and what would not.
Product sourcing continued for the next week and the concept was announced on social media last Tuesday building up to the reveal of the contents last Thursday, when orders were taken. At €40 per box, Liam took 30 orders that night.
The following local businesses are involved: Connacht Print and Design; Noo Chocolates; Kaffa Coffee; Dave’s Deli (coffee); Fionn’s Finest Pure Natural Honey, with hives in Belleek; Soy Candles by Tessa; Belleek Castle, who have provided their spice mix from their signature steak dish, the Drunken Bullock; Suas Drones, who have supplied the Christmas card; a quarter of traditional boiled sweets from Timmy McGrath’s; and Liam Henry’s own business, The Ballina Box.
There are, Henry concedes, some ‘obvious ones missing’ but refrigeration requirements put him off Smoked Salmon from Clarke’s while he was wary about any potential sale of alcohol issues if Connacht Whiskey was incorporated. He’s hopeful such businesses can be incorporated in the future.
He praises various businesses and organisations like the Ballina Chamber and Mayo North Tourism for collaborations and supports for businesses in the area and says his business idea aims to supplement existing efforts.
“I won’t be getting rich out of this and neither will my suppliers but it is a little help. It is a little bit for them and it is also generating a bit of interest in Ballina and it is letting people know we are still here and we’re still active and still trying things. That’s the whole idea,” he said.

Potential
He said had he thought of the idea sooner, he would have been able to organise and arrange online ordering and delivery but is going with a more low-key approach for now. People simply ring him and either collect the box or he will deliver in the general Ballina area.
“If someone wanted to add in a voucher for a business of their choice in Ballina, I would source that with no commission.
“If I thought of this four weeks earlier, I’d be better set up. This is the market research stage!
“Following on from this the idea is we will move with the seasons and the occasions. We’d go with a birthday box, Valentine’s, Easter, Halloween, you name it and we will be able to include many more businesses then.  
“I am confident it has potential and I am starting to explore a county wide one and I have already made contact with suppliers in other towns and villages. I wanted to do Ballina first, out of loyalty to the town.
“I definitely won’t be giving up the day job because of it! It has been a very interesting two weeks though in terms of seeing what businesses are doing. We’re not going to get rich but we will keep at it.”