It’s a great feeling being inspired by an idea, and those implementing it – especially when it benefits a local community. Having seen a recent British documentary about a new-paradigm grocery store in London, dubbed The People’s Supermarket, it put a smile on this writer’s face to see a quality, local business delivering an alternative to the homogenized grocery monopolies. Britain, like most countries, has just a few food commercial high street food choices, begging the questions – why, and can this be done better?
The People’s Supermarket is the brainchild of Arthur Dawson and his vision, according to their website, is “To create a commercially sustainable, social enterprise that achieves its growth and profitability targets whilst operating within values based on community development and cohesion. Our intent is to offer an alternative food buying network, by connecting an urban community with the local farming community.” What this means is that people are expected to become members (for 25 pounds) and also to work a few hours per month in the shop (thus keeping employee costs down) and this, in turn, keeps the cost of locally produced fruit, veg, bread and more to a minimum. And the positive, community feeling around the idea is fantastic.
Also seeing the amount of perfectly good food being thrown out by the commercial supermarkets was a shock (broccoli and apples that had grown too big, were simply trashed; tons of it). The idea of realizing a healthy community vision – where the business survives, the quality and prices are good – is something that I think we will be seeing much more of in the future. Specialized, small and slow might overtake big, ubiquitous and fast as the adjectives of choice for new generation businesses. After all, the Starbuck’s model needn’t be the only one out there. Look around, question what you see and get active bringing about the change you desire. It can and is being done!