The Peoples Supermarket: how to start your own food coop
We’ve been glued to Arthur Potts-Dawson’s People’s Supermarket on Channel 4. It’s taken them a while to agree on what to stock (Potts-Dawson take note – 75p a pop unwaxed lemons are not cutting it) but it’s a brilliant idea based on Park Slope, a hugely successful New York coop.
But the People’s Supermarket is not alone – up and down the country, in universities, schools, workplaces, community centres and church halls communities are clubbing together, taking control of where their food comes from and getting great discounts.
So how do you go about setting up a coop and what are the benefits?
Sustain, a charity that advocates food and agriculture policies, help groups who want to set-up a food coop. In the past three years they have helped to set up over 100 hundred food coops and buying groups.
Maresa Bossano, Food Co-ops programme manager said “there has been a huge rise in the number of inquiries we’ve received in the last two years, particularly from students and Transition Towns.
“A lot of people are setting up food co-ops because they’re concerned about the dominance of supermarkets and want to provide an alternative, and do something to bring the local community together.”
There are lots of different types of food coop from buying clubs, stalls, mobile stores or delivery schemes right through to a shop. Which one you go for would depend on what sort of food you want to buy and how many members you aim to have.
A buying group is the simplest. This involves several people coming together to buy in bulk and getting a discount. These usually require you to pay up front but there is little admin involved as the money goes straight to the supplier. Sustain have a useful list of wholesale suppliers you can use and guidelines on how to set-up your group.
Box and bag schemes are another increasingly popular way for communities to buy and distribute their own food – but it does involve more work and you also get less choice about what you receive in your bag.
If you want to set up your own scheme check out Sustain’s guide as it’s packed with info – they’ll also help you with advice, five days free buisness advice, leaflets and banners and support to help market your scheme.
Photo credit: Channel 4
Find out more:
Unicorn, a great example of a coop in Manchester
Community supported agriculture – or how to share a cow
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