Fundraisers planned for Sleepless Goat

Over $100 a day in funding needed to prevent closure of workers' co-operative

Chris Oldfield, a Sleepless Goat staff member, says the co-operative has struggled with competition like Starbucks and David's Tea.
Chris Oldfield, a Sleepless Goat staff member, says the co-operative has struggled with competition like Starbucks and David's Tea.

The Sleepless Goat, a local destination for fair trade coffee and homemade food, is planning multiple fundraisers to address the business’s current financial challenges.

On Nov. 21, The Sleepless Goat released a formal statement online addressing current issues faced by the Workers’ Co-operative.

“The Sleepless Goat Cafe and Workers’ Co-op is facing an especially challenging time,” the Nov. 21 statement said. “We are currently taking drastic actions to solve our dilemma, beginning with this very letter.”

A co-operative is an establishment that has no hierarchy or manager, and all decisions are consensus-based.

Regardless of how long individuals have worked there, they all have equal say in the decision-making process.

Sleepless Goat staff member Chris Oldfield said factors such as local competition from Starbucks and David’s Tea, as well as the economic downturn, have contributed to the current situation.

“Coffee as much as people want to tell themselves, it’s not a necessary component of everyone’s daily life,” he said. “When there’s an economic crunch, people start to cut off things that they don’t need.”

Over the past two years, Oldfield said the Goat has had staffing problems. All workers get paid minimum wage.

“The problem we’ve encountered is over the years … we’ve just had a harder and harder time keeping staff members,” he said.

The Goat has dealt with financial issues in the past, Oldfield said.

“Last year, we had twice as much debt but we had a lot of dedicated staff members, so we were able to deal with it,” he said.

To manage their current situation, two music events have been planned as fundraisers on Nov. 30 at the Artel and on Dec. 6 at the Mansion.

Goat workers are also making personal contributions.

“All the money that goes into the tip jar, staff can opt out of their tips and we’re donating those,” he said. “The biggest things we’re doing, just the letter, letting the public know.”

Oldfield said he thinks closure is a possibility.

“We’re in this tight spot where we have this problem at the worst time of the year,” he said. “I think it certainly could close, I think that’s realistic.”

Oldfield said remaining in business would require revenue of $100 to $200 a day, which would help pay for their $6,000 monthly rent, one of the highest costs the business incurs.

“If we had all the money in the world, if we still don’t have enough staff members we still can’t function,” he said. “We’re just trying to get enough money to sort of cover our debt.”

As far as relocation, Oldfield said the Goat has played with the idea of moving to a building at the corner of Brock and Wellington Streets.

“If we were in an ideal situation right now, it’d be something we’d consider, just because it’d be nice to buy our own building,” he said.

Closure would mean the loss of a cultural staple within the Kingston community, Oldfield said.

“It might be one of those things where you don’t know how important something is until it’s gone,” he said. “It’d be a shame, none of us want it to close.”

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