Brighton may see an alternative to the traditional convenience store following a proposal to open a People’s Supermarket style store in the area.
Local residents are keen to introduce a community co-operative on the former garden site on the Lewes Road in Brighton. The Lewes Road Community Garden site was previously earmarked for a Tesco store but following protests last summer the supermarket chain withdrew its application.
Developer Alburn Milos has begun building apartments and retail premises on the site. Talks between the developer and the community groups are currently ongoing.
Duncan Blinkhorn, who was involved in the Lewes Road Community Garden project, said that this style of store would be a perfect fit for the area. “Our experience from the Lewes Road Community Garden has demonstrated the strength of feeling in this area for initiatives which enable genuine involvement by local residents,” he said. “A ‘People’s Supermarket’ could build on this, providing a very welcome development, one which would be most appropriate for this patch of land in the cause of greater community empowerment.”
If it gets the green light, the model would follow the model of the People’s Supermarket in London which was the subject of a recent Channel 4 documentary. It would operate on a voluntary basis with those working in the store being offered a discount on their shopping.
Co-owner of the London People’s Supermarket Kate Wickes-Bull said the model has caught the imagination of consumers. “Once people understand the concept, they fall in love with it,” she says. “These types of stores offer something that the supermarkets simply can’t compete with.” There are currently over 500 people volunteering at her store.