The People’s Supermarket, a community-focused co-operative, is consulting locals about plans to open a shop in Homerton, Hackney.
Hackney Council have invited The People’s Supermarket (TPS) to undertake a seven-week public consultation period to establish whether the local community would want and support a new store. TPS’s aim is to give customers: “An alternative food buying network, by connecting an urban community with the local farming community.” It offers local, seasonal food alongside recognised brands and works on a co-operative basis.
TPS was founded by Kate Bull, chef Arthur Potts Dawson and regeneration consultant David Barrie. The first TPS opened last summer on Lamb’s Conduit Street in Holborn – a process followed as part of a C4 documentary. TPS currently has 20 paid staff, who are helped by over a 1,000 members serving over 6,000 customers a week. Members get discounts and shares in the business in return for working for four hours a month in the shop.
Speaking to EastLondonLines, Jessica Green, who is leading the Hackney consultation, said: “Hackney council approached us to see whether opening a People’s Supermarket in Homerton would work. It would be easy for us to open in a trendier area such as Stoke Newington but we like Homerton because it’s not as trendy, and therefore doesn’t have the same benefits as the more commercial areas of Hackney.”
In an area of high unemployment, Jessica highlighted the importance of the work TPS would generate, whether permanent or volunteer. She said: “We’re aiming to employ eight local people full-time once the shop is up and running. Also, when unemployed people decide to volunteer for us, we have a conversation about what skills they have and what they want to do in the shop that could help them in their future careers. Plus we’re open to other ways for people to generate income – for example we can offer a craftsperson sale or return on items they want to sell in TPS. We try to be open and accommodate all different types of unemployment from professionals who’ve been made redundant to those on a low income.”
Although TPS is a not-for-profit social enterprise, commercial investment still needs to be taken into consideration, as Jessica explained: “Kate Bull, the co-founder and CEO, is also talking to investors and partners about a second store. It’s all about balancing the commercial and social.”
So far, nearly 100 people have filled in an online survey on the Hackney TPS website. Jessica added: “We are noticing some common themes already. We will also be distributing paper copies of the survey and anyone is welcome to take copies to distribute in areas they think would be of benefit. We will also be holding a meeting at Homerton library for people to come and discuss the idea. We want to ensure we are doing something to help everyone. First and foremost we are listening.”
Hackney councillor Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, said: “The People’s Supermarket will bring economic growth and an increased sense of community to the area as paid employees, local food providers and volunteers work together to run the operation. The model has worked very successfully elsewhere and we would certainly welcome it in Hackney.”
As part of the consultation, TPS will be holding a pop-up stall at Chatsworth Road Market 11am-4pm every Sunday until 9 October. The consultation period will run until the end of September, and a report will be presented to Hackney council at the end of October. The site of the store isn’t yet confirmed but TPS are in talks with local landlords. If successful, the shop could be open by Christmas.
If you live in or around the area highlighted on this map, The People’s Supermarket would like to hear from you. Contact Jessica on 07904 517 465, email firstname.lastname@example.org, go to the website, follow them on Twitter (@TPShackney / @TPSlondon) or ‘like’ them on Facebook.