Sunshine Co-op sets up shop in historic city centre building

A co-op which specialises in high quality food and drinks has set up shop in a historic city centre building as part of a major regeneration project.

The Sunshine Co-operative has already built up a following after three years delivering boxes of sustainably-grown goods and other locally-sourced produce.

Now, for the first time, they have a dedicated shop where people can browse the goods on sale after moving from the Eagle Building in the East End to the bottom of High Street West, as part of the major regeneration of the 170-175 block of buildings.

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They join new neighbours Pop Recs as new life is being breathed into the once dilapidated buildings which lie in the city’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone.

Inside the new Sunshine Co-operative in High Street West

The shop is currently open Saturdays from 11am to 5pm, but in the coming weeks will be open five days a week as the final parts of building work are completed.

While the delivery box service continues, made up in the new stock room, the shop means people can pick up individual goods from a whole range of producers including Funk Kombucha, Northumbrian Pantry, Calders Kitchen, Suma wholefoods, Catchi’s Kimchi, 40 Kola, Screaming Chimp, as well as eco-friendly beauty products and many more.

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The shop will also soon sell loose goods such as pulses, beans, spices, rice and pasta which people can dispense into reusable packaging to cut down on waste.

Claire Wayman, one of the directors of the co-op along with partner Wojciech Bozyk, said the new shop has already been well received.

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Sunshine Co-op's Claire Wayman in the new shop on High Street West

She said: “It’s difficult to engage with people online and what we’ve always enjoyed is doing markets and meeting people. We’re all about customer service as a community-based business, so to finally have a shop is brilliant.

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“You can already see more footfall in this area of town, especially on match days, as well as people now coming from outside of the area to shop in Sunderland. You can feel the changes and it’s great to be a part of something, and all the regeneration that is taking place at the minute.”

She added: “A lot of the products are things you can’t get anywhere else in Sunderland. We do tasters so it’s great cracking open jars and introducing people to something new. We’re also making a list of things people want to see stocked too.”

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As well as the shop, the unit, once a branch of the old Backhouse’s Bank, houses a community room and a stock room created from the old documents vault.

The shop forms part of major regeneration works at 170-175 High Street West
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The community room, which is fully accessible for people with mobility issues, has already started hosting cookery courses.

They are also helping to provide a pathway to employment with the new Sunshine Training Academy.

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Part funded by CLLD (community led local development), the scheme is offering shop-based training to people aged 18+ who live in either north or south Sunderland.

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Sunshine Co-op's Claire Wayman and Wojciech Bozyk in their new High Street West, shop.

As well as a new gig and events space for the city, housed in the original Binns store, Pop Recs will also be a new coffee shop for the city.

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Screaming Chimp sauces are among the products stocked
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Sunderland-made kombucha is also available
The shop is at the bottom end of High Street West where it meets High Street East
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The shop is currently open on Saturdays only but will soon open five days a week
Sunshine Co-op, High Street West
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Suma wholefoods are stocked at the shop
Northumbrian Pantry are one of the North East stockists