Belfast siblings launch new essential goods pop-up store on the Lisburn Road

Brother and sister duo, Rachel McSporran (23) and Thomas Johnston (17) outside their Simply Sanitise store.

A NEW pop-up shop has been launched on Belfast’s Lisburn Road specialising in essential food and harder to get items.

Simply Sanitise the brainchild of psychology graduate, Rachel McSporran (23) and RBAI AS-level student, Thomas Johnston (17).

In a matter of weeks, the duo sourced, deep cleaned and repurposed the former Corries Butchers unit at 400 Lisburn Road, and negotiated with suppliers and local companies to take delivery of a wide range of products.

It opened for the first time on Saturday, with stock ranging from toilet roll, cleaning products and hand sanitiser to store cupboard essentials including jam, granola, fresh wheaten bread and scones from Jane’s Kitchen.

Rachel returned home from Edinburgh with her husband just before lockdown. Commenting on the inspiration behind the new business, she said: “It was so strange to come home and see the Lisburn Road with so many empty units and then queues outside the few supermarkets and essential shops that were still trading.

“Of course, it is happening everywhere - I had been studying at a cookery school in Edinburgh and the course was postponed indefinitely. The hospitality and leisure sectors have been badly hit in this crisis.”

Thomas, who will move into upper sixth in September, is studying economics and is relishing the opportunity to get more hands-on exposure on how to run a business.

He said: “When Rachel and I began talking about what we could do to help people during this pandemic, we felt this was a way that we could make a meaningful difference in our local community. Studying economics, I’ve found how the dial has shifted during this pandemic very interesting and it’s fascinating to get this real-life, first-hand experience in supply and demand.

“Our first day’s trading on Saturday went very well and the feedback from customers was great. We don’t have a long-term plan, but we aim to be here for as long as people need us."

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