food shopping

The People’s Supermarket

Here’s an idea I like the sound of – creating a community owned and run supermarket, and undercutting the big supermarkets in the process. Chef Arthur Potts Dawson is trying to do exactly that, giving people cheaper groceries by getting together a community of shoppers. Customers register, volunteer a certain number of hours a month working at the supermarket, and prices are kept low because there are no wages to pay.

The People’s Supermarket really does belong to its members” says their website. “It’s the members who will decide how the place is run, what it sells and ultimately, what kind of shop it will be.”

It is essentially a co-op of course, but done on a large scale and in the style of the modern supermarkets the average British shopper is used to. It’s a re-invention of the co-op for the 21st century, and a rather ambitious experiment.

The Supermarket will open on Lamb’s Conduit Street, Camden, London, at the beginning of June. Shoppers can register to become owners by paying £25 and volunteering four hours a month, in return for a 20% discount in store.

I look forward to hearing more about The People’s Supermarket as it opens.


    1. Yes, the co-op is technically owned by its members, but it isn’t run by them. The profit-sharing benefits of membership are little better than the loyalty card schemes that the other supermarkets run. There was of course a whole co-operative movement back in the 50s, and the co-op is the remnant of that, amalgamated from many others. The community focus has been lost along the way. Hopefully the People’s Supermarket will spark some interest in co-ops again.

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