|Could The People's Supermarket Work In Chiswick?|
We speak to Andreas Georghiou who has been involved with the project from day one
From running his own restaurant, Arthur Potts Dawson is more than familiar with waste - the resulting cost that's passed onto producers and customers alike, and the high price that's paid by the environment.
Armed with the knowledge that British supermarkets bin over 1,000 tonnes of food a day, Arthur set about starting an independent no-waste supermarket in Camden with the help and support of Chiswick's Andreas Georghiou.
"Arthur has been a close friend since the day we met at the River Cafe 15 years ago the first day I delivered to them was his first day there, even though he was one of the most talented chefs of his generation as a "neubie" checking in the veg was part of his early tasks for two very demanding ladies we hit it off straight away," said Andreas. "We supplied him everywhere he went to work there after.
"Arthur contacted me in May 2010 asking for advice on purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables. I took him along to the market but the 4.00am starts and the workload involved with the project were too much so following a meeting with Arthur and fellow founder Kate, I was asked if I could help supply the fruit and vegetables which I agreed to knowing my experience could help supply superior produce and better prices than supermarkets. Also, due to the financial situation, they needed some help so I granted them a small credit line which in effect allowed us to fill up the shelves and make much needed sales ...the fresh produce became an instant hit helping The Peoples' Supermarket to grow steadily.
"It was clear from day one that as the staff were in effect volunteers that they needed more than just a supplier so Sophia (my partner) Darren and I got to work with training teaching staff about displays and marketing of fresh produce.
"We now have two dedicated fresh produce managers whom I continue to train and I also run a fresh Produce surgery every Tuesday from midday where I discuss things fruit and veggie. I also sponsor two new members a week to help encourage people from poorer backgrounds to join."
Filmed over two years, the four-part TV series follows Arthur from the inception of the idea, through to the turbulent months after the supermarket opens in Camden. The programme has proved a huge hit and is "a very honest representation of the struggle to keep the project going."
"I was kind of hooked from the first "members meeting" back in June 2010 when I became clearer about the project and met the diverse nature of those who had got involved from all walks of life and then a member Tom Smith asked the question 'what can you do for families who don't have much money?'" continued Andreas. "My answer was clear. Give you better, more healthy produce for less than you would pay in the Supermarkets. And I am happy to say to this day that has been the case, Tom is now a really good friend of mine and he is one of the managers."
Could the concept be copied in other areas of London?
"I would love there to be a Peoples' Supermarket in Chiswick and indeed every town. Could it work? Realistically the demographic of Chiswick is very different from Camden. Would people give up four hours a month? I'm not sure but you never know what the future holds do you? And until such times you still have several great independent food stores who supply better quality and cheaper food than the Supermarkets."
Find out more about The People's Supermarket at thepeoplessupermarket.org.
Find out more about Andreas Georghiou at http://www.andreasveg.co.uk/
March 1, 2011