Ballydehob’s The Copper Merchant is a fun and quirky lifestyle store selling a whole range of wonderfully eclectic and unusual bits and pieces. From jewellery to homewares, handbags to beauty products, home fragrances to classic toys or even a greeting card. It’s the joy of discovery that makes this store a joy to get lost in.
Little wonder that the owner Joanne Cassidy is as eclectic as her shop’s contents; her wanderlust and love of adventure taking her around the world before she settled back in Ballydehob.
After growing up in Ballydehob, when she was in her 20s, Joanne lived and travelled in London, Paris, Hong Kong and SE Aisa, before finally settling in Dublin, where she worked as a theatrical costume designer. In her early 30s, Joanne moved back to Ballydehob with her daughter Sophia and has lived there ever since.
“I’d been toying with the idea of opening a shop for a few years,” she explains. My trips to Paris and London made me think that Ballydehob was exactly right for a fun, quirky, glamour lifestyle shop. The village was gradually re-emerging and dusting itself off after the recession and a whole new energy was starting, with brilliant restaurants, great nightlife in the pubs with original and with traditional music, incredible festivals and young people moving back to the area. We just needed a few more shops to add to the mix.”
Joanne has had a number of business interests in Ballydehob before opening The Copper Merchant. She opened the West Cork Gourmet Store in 2002, an artisan delicatessen, cafe and wine shop and ran this for many years, including a branch in Schull. The cafe gradually evolved into a restaurant The Porcelain Room. It was here that Joanne got to showcase all the fabulous recipes she’d picked up while living in South East Asia.
“I had always had an interest in the far east, and after completing a teaching English as a foreign language course, I decided on a complete whim to travel to Hong Kong when I was 21,” she says. “I taught English in Sha Tin in the new territories near the Chinese border.
After teaching, Joanne travelled throughout SE Aisa, Macau, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia. “I particularly fell in love with Bangkok; it’s fragrant chaos and beauty were a sensory overload. (I’m not sure many people agree with me there but I loved it).”
Joanne went back a few years later and spent more time in China, Vietnam and Laos. “I love all these countries, they are all so different, but most of all I love the food.”
After handing over her restaurant business to a new owner, Joanne is delighting in the calmness and slower pace of retail.
“I’m always amazed and delighted with the amount of people who say ‘what a lovely shop’. It makes my day,” she says.
“Currently my favourite items in the shop are a range of solid perfumes made in Ireland by Jo Browne. There are three perfumes in floral, sweet and Oriental fragrances and two colognes suitable for men and women in woody and Oriental scent.”
In the 1895 townhouse above the Copper Merchant, Joanne is launching another exciting business venture. ‘Ballydehob House’ is a boutique self-catering accommodation sleeping 10 in vintage bedrooms. Guests can relax by the fire in the large stylish drawing room, enjoy cocktails and elaborate dinners in the glamorous dining room or cook leisurely brunches in the sunny kitchen. It will be perfect for friends and families to host celebration evenings for anniversaries, birthdays, engagements and so on.
“We hope the house will offer unique stays in a unique village,” says Joanne.
No doubt it won’t be this village entrepreneur’s last project.