Many cities and large towns in England have independently-owned supermarkets, so in this post, we’ve scoured England for some of the best. We found three in Brighton, two in London, one on the Suffolk/Norfolk Coast and one up north in Wigan. How that’s for variety?!
Avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing and medical conditions and keep essential oils, candles and xylitol (in some ‘natural’ gums and toothpastes) away from pets. Also see pet-toxic plants and houseplants to avoid.
- Infinity Foods (Brighton) is a workers coop offering a wide range of products in zero waste dispensers, with refill stations. It also operates a successful wholesale business nationwide.
- Kindly (Brighton) is a vegan ‘zero food miles’ supermarket founded by a web developer who wanted to do something to put the planet before profit. It has a loyalty scheme for discounts and home delivery by electric van.
- HISBE (Brighton) stands for ‘how it should be!’ This community interest company was set up by two sisters. Everything is locally-sourced (even the filling and bread for freshly-made sandwiches). Although not all-vegan, it has a good selection of plant-based foods.
- The Peoples Supermarket (London) was set up by a chef (Mick Jagger’s nephew). If offers cheap prices, for volunteering 4 hours a month. The next step is to cook up food waste, to serve as ready-meals. Also in London, Made Up Kitchen began as a way to distribute food waste, and has now blossomed into a social supermarket.
- Goodery Grocery (Norfolk & Suffolk) is locally-owned with its own market garden. Find local producers, food cupboard staples in zero waste packaging, build your own veg box and order refills.
- The Bridge at Leigh (near Wigan) was set up to help JAM (just about managing) families and anyone who choosing between heating and eating. Volunteers and a £2 annual membership help to keep prices low, while using up food waste. This supermarket even helps customers find supported accommodation and clothes (for interviews).
Manchester’s Affordable Worker-Owned Grocery
Unicorn Grocery (Manchester) is an award-winning vegan supermarket owned by workers that pays its staff more, employs people of different skills, yet has prices rivalling the main supermarket (the site has simple recipes to use store ingredients and a free Grow Your Own Grocery guide, for other towns to do the same).
The store became the first in England to install a living roof in a commercial building (which gives habitat to the endangered black redstart bird. 90% of produce comes from the farm, cutting out middlemen. From real bread to GM-free food, items labeled with the Pink Good Stuff logo, are from companies they hope will become mainstream nationwide. Veggies are sold in compostable cellulose nets, and salads or olives in compostable tubs. There is a soup cup deposit scheme, and customers can fill up their reusable water bottles.
So how does Unicorn Grocery do all this, yet still compete on price? Mostly by selling local items, avoiding excess packaging (puts a third on prices) and keeping overheads low, by not expanding into a big chain. Food prices are rising overall, so even this store is feeling the pinch. But they try to do business differently, finding ways to to avoid food waste and reduce overheads, rather than pay less to their wholesalers or pass on costs to their treasured customers.