Photo source: http://bit.ly/pVZ6Ye
There are incredible businesses that are doing so much more than simply fighting. They are compounding their belief, they are setting things right, they are bastions of the right way things should be done and they are delivering personable, attentive services and products that remind people what great businesses can achieve.
But how do these projects and enterprises actually deliver scale, how do they challenge the hegemony dished out by the high street monoliths? Do they have to get dirty? For they will never drive a harder margin, they will never have a greater economy of scale and will never, therefore, acquire greater investment. The wider, informed, ethical (middle-class) consumer will seek them out in their lower-rent bolt-holes, but how do they deliver this to the wider market? How does the average mother of two with no time, a car to pay for and a full time job find the time or inclination to step away from the status quo and (usually) spend more for what she can get in Tesco?
Now, of course, there is the realisation of significant stereotypes at play here, but stereotypes exist for this very purpose; a generalisation. The intention is to draw out the fact that big business is just that and the small player will surely have to get dirty to reach the masses?
The alternative is for ethical/sustainable/environmental (delete as applicable) business to offer more, surely? More inclusion (as with the People’s Supermarket) a share in the profits (the Co-op) or more a personable experience (a la the veg box enterprise Growing Communities)
But these are still small or marginalised. The co-op isn’t small, granted - but it’s not exactly Sainbury’s either. When people need something, and I mean as in actually need something, then they go to what is near and what is cheap. How do you alter this behaviour slightly to cause people to instead think ‘I need something locally cheap’ - by local I simply mean, with origins in the local area/from local people. Is this how we begin to grow the presence of the currently rather redundant and out-of-reach smaller ethical businesses?
We believe the first comment on this article sums up this problem succinctly: here
So here are our 3 ideas for what can be done:
Photo source: http://bit.ly/re6jhv
- Change people’s thought process from the out set. Show them how good (and cheap) local can be by delivering local businesses into the communities they serve
- Build tangible links with the community - (we’re thinking a bus with serving counter, (see pic above) funded by point 3. It takes the food to those who have little time and demonstrates the potential
- Tax the larger supermarket and retail chains a % based on turnover, the taxation is allocated to a ‘grow local’ initiative supporting regional and community businesses that deliver innate ethics in their business model
Connected Roots is trying to deliver this ethos through encouraging people to grow a small amount of veg and fruit for themselves, cooking what they want and then trading and swapping, when they get tired of eating the same produce, with neighbours doing the same thing.
We found that growing on a small scale produced plenty of, french beans, for example but after the 4th day in a row, they tend to get a little dull - so swapping for an alternative seemed ideal, and Connected Roots was born.
Get in touch to discuss: firstname.lastname@example.org