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Get more from your local store

One of the other trends that Ireland has been slow to pick up on is the idea of the community or social enterprise grocery store. At a time when the local stores have all but disappeared to be replaced with franchise or international grocery stores, it may seem inopportune to set one of these up.

But in the North America where the big brands dominate there are a number of successful entrepreneurial organisations in this area. Sevananda  is a natural foods market in Atlanta for example, consumer owned and running now for thirty three years and counting. Or the Peoples Grocery in Oakland California whose core mission is around Food Justice, the belief that healthy food is a human right.

And not just in North America. Take Echo store in the Philipines, ECHO stands for environment and community hope organisation. A social enterprise, it offers clients a one stop shop to help start living a sustainable lifestyle.

And not just individual stores either. Look at the Carrot Common, a unique partnership (coming from the cooperative model), structured as a joint venture with a number of social enterprises and for-profit organisations as partners.  This partnership owns Carrot Common mall which includes 17 stores (total of 21,000 square feet,; 10,000 square feet of office space, and 33 parking spaces). In this unique legal set-up over 50% of Commons profits flow to organisations that benefit the community, including to a social venture capital fund operated by the Cooperative Resource Pool of Ontario and a charitable fund.

There are literally hundreds of models out there. At a time when food and health are major issues particularly in disadvantaged communities, surely there is room for more of these in Ireland?

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