True Food Co-op is real lottery winnerBy Alan Bunce
May 20, 2010
Suppliers and special guests celebrated the arrival of Reading’s first True Food Community Shop at the weekend.
The not-for-profit store in Grove Road, Emmer Green, specialising in local and ethically-sourced organic food, held its opening party on Saturday.
The outlet, created with a £100,000 lottery grant over three years, is unlike anything currently in town. It aims to ensure a fair deal for suppliers while making shopping more relaxing.
But chief buyer Joanna MacDouall admitted it came about almost by accident. She said: “The shop is a new venture for us. Before we just had the warehouse in Whitley.
“We grew out of the warehouse and we could not find a warehouse but we found a shop so we thought we would open a shop.”
The True Food Co-op has run markets around town for the last five-and-a-half years. It is seen as a cross between a supermarket and its own regular markets. Shoppers can enjoy a cup of coffee and there is a box of toys for children.
Mrs MacDouall said sales have increased each week since opening in March. Shoppers are a mix of loyal customers who have long bought into the concept and new shoppers trying it out.
Parents from nearby Emmer Green Primary School often drop in.
A general store nearby closed around two years ago and Mrs MacDouall said the Co-op had been able to satisfy some of that demand.
But she added: “Anybody requiring cigarettes and a Pot Noodle will go out disappointed.”
The store, similar to a whole food shop, sells items like fruit, vegetables and cheese. Children are encouraged to take part in choosing items for their parents.
The store has attracted grateful words from shoppers about allowing ethical choices but without the strain of supermarket shopping.
She said: “A lot of people are very, very aware and if you give them the choice [between ethical and non-ethical] by putting them side by side on the shelf they would buy the ethical one, they are conscientious.
“They tell us they don’t have to worry about reading the labels with small print because we’ve done it for them.”
The shop is open on Monday from noon to 8pm, Tuesday to Friday from 11am to 5.30pm and Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
An army of 13 volunteers helps out and more are always needed.
Visit www.truefood.coop or drop into the shop.