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People's own supermarket

Founder Chris Waites

Founder Chris Waites

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

A NEW type of supermarket that will be owned and run by its members has found an East Oxford premises.

Organisers of the ‘People’s Supermarket’ have signed a lease for a property in Cowley Road, between Rectory Road and Princes Street.

They hope to open in June and held a launch event at the Cowley Road Methodist Church this week attended by about 100 prospective members.

The supermarket will sell locally-produced food and be staffed by its members, which will reduce costs and mean goods will be cheaper than normal shops.

Founder Chris Waites, from Long Wittenham, said: “The lease has all been signed and agreed, but we have not started because we need the members sorted out. Effectively, as soon as the members say, we are ready to go and get the shop fitted out. The hope is it will be open in June.”

Mr Waites hopes to have 500 members to staff and run the shop, but said it only needed an initial 150 to open.

Members will pay an annual fee of £12 and volunteer in the store for four hours a month.

In return they get 20 per cent off their shopping.

An initial steering committee has been set up to oversee the opening. Then the running of the shop, including whether or not to hire paid staff and how to spend profits, will be decided democratically by the members.

The Cowley Road store will be the first to open in the UK outside London. Two People’s Supermarkets are operating in Camden and Hackney.

Mr Waites said: “I went to London and saw the amazing community they had built there and the amazing local food they had got.

“I thought it would be perfect to have the same in Oxford.”

Kerry Emberson, 35, who lives in East Oxford, said: “I like the idea of having a community-run supermarket.”

Jack Paton, from Headington, said: “It is about people helping themselves, helping the community, encouraging local producers and it is giving good value to the local community.

“Cowley Road is already a community-orientated area of Oxford and it can only encourage that.”

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