‘Owning a small business is a gamble’

Me & My Money: David Dennison, founder of Viking Irish Drinks

Are you a saver or a spender?

I have always been a saver. As a self-employed business owner, saving is an essential part of our ethos. We are always saving to spend, be it on equipment or everyday items.

Do you shop around for better value?

One lesson I was taught when very young was to always look at the price. If it seems too expensive, don’t buy it as an alternative will come along.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

Over the years I have bought some extravagant items, some good and some not so good. The one I’m still very proud of was purchasing a brand new Opel Manta in 1982. The thrill and excitement lasted a long time.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

I’m very sustainably-minded and consider our environment as being precious. I buy trees, be it for fruiting or oxygen suppliers. The one I consider the best value was a pair of mulberry trees that I bought a good few years ago. That was a long-term investment – no fruit for 10 years but now we get 20kg/30kg of fruit every year. And the birds have a share, also.

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How did you prefer to shop during the Covid-19 restrictions – online or local?

I consider myself old fashioned but buying online during the depths of the pandemic was something I embraced. However, I made sure I supported local businesses, which often have excellent online offers. I’m part of Food the Waterford Way, a producer-led countywide members’ organisation that showcases authentic Waterford cuisine, and I would always steer to support my friends and peers within the group.

Do you haggle over prices?

I remember as a teenager purchasing a shirt, tie and jacket in a well-known outlet in Dublin. I asked the lady behind the counter for a discount and she looked at me, smiled and said she would take a pound off. It is very unlikely that this would happen now, but I will still question the price of certain items. Haggle a little – believe it or not, it does sometimes work.

How has the Covid-19 crisis changed your spending habits?

I’m not a big takeaway food person, and what we have been buying is good local raw foods. I have delved into experimenting with non-meat foods and, while I wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian, it is nice to continue that type of option, particularly having so many local vegetable producers in our area.

Do you invest in shares?

I invested once with an Irish company. I bought the share at just under a euro and made hundreds of euro rather than millions.

Cash or card?

I use a debit card. My transactions with cash are near zero.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

In early 2021, I bought a Huawei Pro phone. That was a great investment. I probably spend too much time on it, but that’s modern technology for you.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

Yes, for our first house. We saved nearly 20 per cent of the asking price and the significance of this was that the interest rates hit 19 per cent. Hard to believe, but, by paying the 20 per cent, it softened this a little.

Have you ever lost money?

Yes.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?

Owning a small business is a gamble! That said, I sometimes put a few euro on a horse – I won €39 on the Grand National thanks to Ms Rachael Blackmore.

Is money important to you?

Some say that money makes the world go around, but I value non-monetary situations a lot more. Health and family would be, by far, the number one. I love making money, not for the asset, but for the challenge.

How much money do you have on you now?

I have two €5 notes and a bundle of coins for car parking when a card is not accepted. I also have three debit cards for various expenses.

In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea