What a beautiful morning, meeting with Arthur Potts Dawson to visit the site of what he is helping to become Britain’s newest food co-operative, The People’s Supermarket. Arthur is energetic, charming, entrepreneurial and could help change your life, or at least the lives of the community on some of the estates in London’s Camden Town where the People’s Supermarket will be. Arthur is, in the phrase, a celebrity chef. He has a passion for sustainability, with restaurants like Acorn House and Mrs Paisley’s Lashings.
“We have had a sense of ownership knocked out of us,” says Arthur “and its easier to wait to be led, rather than getting on and making things happen.”
“Co-ops are part of why I am proud to be British” he continued. In fact, though, his inspiration for what he is pioneering is the celebrated Park Slope Food Co-op in Brooklyn, USA. Members help out by working in store and they get good food at low prices.
The site was a shop that closed down. It is in a state and as we talk, two people come by, promising to be part of a team with mops at the weekend. The site was snatched from under the nose of Tesco, and rather than compete with other shops in the street, Arthur is trying to co-operate with them, so they can all benefit from more trade, from locals and visitors.
It is all coming together, but there’s hard work ahead too, to fit the shop out, get food in, recruit members, turn the basement into a community room and open the doors in June.
He’d love to hear suggestions of how the wider co-operative movement can feed in and connect too.
It is an inspiring ‘before’ and, judging from the volume of people knocking on the door, it is a going to be a great ‘after’ to come.