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Co-op Activities Last Updated: Dec 30, 2011 - 7:49:11 AM  RSS feed

The people's Supermarket
By David Griffiths
Dec 30, 2011 - 7:15:28 AM

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At 8:30 p.m on 29 December ABC1 showed the first of four programs on the People's Supermarket in the UK. The programs were first broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK in early 2011.  The People's Supermarket was established in May 2010. Is the People's Supermarket a food co-operative or is it something else?

The People's Supermarket is located in Lamb's Condiot Street, Holborn, London, near to the Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The first program included the founder chef Arthur Potts Dawson - a nephew of Mick Jagger - visiting the Park Slope Food Coop in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City.  Park Slope was established in 1973 and has 15,000 members. Every member has to work once every month in the shop in exchange for a 20-40% discount on their groceries. Members of the co-operative take an active role in the co-op's decision-making process and participate in planning and discussion of the co-operative's future.

It is unclear from the program and the People's Supermarket web site ( with links not working) whether it is a co-operative based on member ownership and control. There are apparently now 1000 members ( 95 at the end of the first program) who pay a joining fee of 25 pounds and contribute 4 hours of voluntary labor per month to receive a 10% discount on their groceries. People who pay and volunteer are described as members.

The first program's focus was  on  chef Arthur Potts Dawson - his thinking, action and ideas. The emphasis was on "my."  By the end of the program there was no evidence of actual or planned involvement of the members in decision-making.

According to Wikipedia the People's Supermarket was established by Potts Dawson, Kate Wickes-Ball, David Barrie and a team of supporters and professional advisers.  While Potts Dawson was evident and clear, the nature and extent of this team and the advisors was not revealed in the first program. David Barrie on his web site does refer to the People's Supermarket as  evidence of a social business , social ventureand social innovation. - as an example of designing and delivering effective new services.

Dave Barrie also provides an insight to future programs - noting that since opening in May 2010 that 20 jobs had been created and 10,000 volunteer hours provided. A How to strart your own supermarket manual has also been written.  A clue to the jobs is provided on the People's Supermarket web site which states that in September 2010 the store acquired a complete ex-demonstration domestic kitchen which has created four jobs for chefs. It is not clear, therefore, as to what 20 jobs have been created.

© Copyright 2011 by Co-operatives Victoria News

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