When it opened two years ago it was welcomed as a revolutionary new arrival on London’s retail scene. But now The People’s Supermarket, a community driven, cooperatively run store in Lamb’s Conduit Street, Holborn, is facing imminent closure and a vote by the membership could see it close its doors for good on March 2. The celebrated supermarket, which was the focus of a Channel 4 documentary last year, is facing arrears of £31,000 in unpaid business rates from last year and this year.
‘We are not a traditional business. We are a co-op and we don’t have access to the sort of credit facilities that other businesses do. But for rates, we are treated exactly the same as Tesco, or any of the other big supermarkets,’ said the store’s Tara Mulqueen, who says the shop is appealing to Camden Council to renegotiate the rate payments. The shop’s members volunteer in the store four hours per month for a 20 per cent discount on their food shopping and the store aims to cut down on waste and form a community spirit with its collective workforce. It’s closure would mean the loss of 23 staff. Over 30 local and small suppliers who work with the supermarket will also lose business.
‘We have had long discussions with the supermarket looking at how they pay their arrears but we have to collect those rates like any other business and we do need to collect the money we are owed,’ said a spokesperson for Camden Council. ‘It is a big blow to all the staff, volunteers and local community who have put enormous time and energy into this,’ says Mulqueen. Rebecca Taylor
To support the supermarket, sign the petition at change.org.