For those who are frustrated about the products that the local supermarket does not sell, or about the quality of the fruits or bread sold in your supermarket, here is a tip: start a cooperative supermarket together with your neighbors. In London The People’s Supermarket, a supermarket co-owned by its members, has opened doors.
“Only members can shop at the People’s Supermarket, but they all get a 10 percent discount on prices as well as a say in how the store is run. In exchange, members pay an annual membership fee of GBP 25, and they also pledge to volunteer four hours of their time per month working as store staff. Because the supermarket’s workforce is nearly all volunteers, staff costs are kept low this way — an advantage that can be passed on in lower prices. Any profits that are earned, meanwhile, get put back into the store to bring down prices even further.”
The coop in general is a historical organization form that emerged all around the world in the late 19th century. Groups of farmers and entrepreneurs decided to share risks and profits by starting collaborative projects for services needed by all of them. Most cooperative projects from the past did not survive, or have been privatized. However, the coop as a vintage form of organization seems to be rediscovered. The economic crisis catalyzes new approaches to business and organizations. We might even speak about a slightly emerging coop trend, considering all collaboratively funded projects set up all over the world.