A co-operative supermarket in Oxford is in danger of being closed due to a lack of cash flow.
The People’s Supermarket Oxford, which is modelled on the store in London that was the focus of a Channel 4 documentary, was set up over a year ago to provide an alternative to big supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsburys. To save the store from closure, the co-op's members have launched a fundraising campaign to raise £20,000. The co-op has 606 members, 150 of which are fully active.
Unlike the larger supermarkets, the co-operative focuses on local buying to support the community's economy. It also seeks to minimise waste by creating prepared dishes from food coming up to its sell-by date and composting all other waste materials.
Dan Whitley, general manager of the supermarket, said: “There is a really good relation with the community, we provide locally made things and a lot of real enthusiasm and people willing to volunteer their time to make it work.”
Mr Whitley explained how the main challenge for the members of the co-op is paying back start-up loans while dealing with short-term cash constraints: “You need an awful lot of debt to get things going. We need to improve the infrastructure to increase our revenue.”
Another challenge is being able to maintain an ethical approach when competing with big supermarkets. Sometimes a compromise is needed, said Mr Whitley.
The shop's future will be decided next month, but other options on the table include a change of business model, closure or building something different with the community. If the store closes, any donations will be given back to people.
• To find out more about the campaign, visit the crowdfunding page: http://s.coop/1r33g or email: [email protected]
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