When you Google the term ‘Community Market’ you get a small range of results. From the community market in Sefton to Granby Four Streets and as far afield as Seoul and Ohio, they all focus on giving platforms to small, independent businesses so they can sell their wares to the local public.
Our definition of a community market is slightly different.
Yes, we’re based in the local community and want to be accessed by that community.
Yes, we’re selling our wares to local people.
Yes, we want to make a profit.
However, our main difference is in our pricing strategy. Any profits that we make go straight back into the charity to ensure we are able to feed people in both the food bank and the Community Market. We keep our prices low to make them affordable to everyone and operate three price bands: 20p, 50p and £1. 20p items are basics: tinned goods, rice, pasta, noodles, small packages of tea or coffee, basic everyday biscuits amongst other things. 50p items are usually the larger essential items: oil, large boxes of tea and coffee, bottles of squash, pet food, chocolates, tampons and others. The £1 items are the more premium items such as: large bottles of washing up liquid, boxes of laundry pods, hair styling products, family sized boxes of cereal etc.
Through the Community Market we’re trying to support people before they reach the point of crisis, those who have some money but not enough for a supermarket shop. Our target market is those people who can’t afford to buy a branded tin of beans for 75p or more. For 80p we can offer people a tinned meal such as chicken curry or meatballs, tinned veg or pulses to bulk it out, fresh veg on the side and rice or pasta to complete the plate. It’s not going to win MasterChef any time soon but its more balanced and filling than resorting to beans on toast or a tin of soup plus it could stretch to two or three meals.
Our strategy is a simple one; we pay a small fee to an organisation called FareShare who go around and collect all the unwanted or donated food from supermarkets like Tesco and deliver them to organisations that can use them like us. These items are perfectly edible but can’t be sold for a number of reasons such as:
- Near their ‘Best Before Date’ or have had an extension on their ‘Best Before Date’ meaning they are edible but can’t be sold
- New packaging is being released and the old ones can no longer be sold
- Items are cosmetically damaged and no one will buy them
- End of line ranges such as promotional flavours or products
All of these items would have otherwise gone to landfill so we are helping to feed local people as well as preventing food waste.
We take some of our surplus items from the store room and sell them to the local community at a greatly discounted price. The main aim of the Community Market isn’t to offer a cracking bargain (although if we do say so ourselves, there are some absolute corkers!) – it’s to stop people getting to a point where they need to use a food bank.
For those of you concerned that we are taking away from the food bank in order to fill the shop, please be reassured that will never be the case. We are in a much better position stock-wise than we were 6 months ago but if we ever had a situation where we were low on food the community market would just stock less products.
We can never be sure what we’re going to receive from FareShare and sometimes it’s not entirely appropriate for emergency food aid but is still suitable to be used. For example, if we get two bottles of cooking oil we can’t give them out because not everyone can use them and there’s not enough for everyone. We can however sell them at the community market, alongside other things we can’t give out like washing up liquid, laundry detergent and fizzy drinks.
Our Community Market is open to anyone, we run from 11am until 2pm at St Michael in the City Church on Upper Pitt Street.