Everyone chooses what they want from a list then all the orders are collated and placed with the supplier by phone or e-mail. The order is delivered to one location, usually someoneís house where everyone else comes to pick up their items at a set time.
Buying clubs usually work on a pre-order, pre-pay system. You should ask everyone to pay in advance by cheque - if possible made out to the supplier. However, some suppliers may only want one cheque and so someone may have to take on the responsibility of paying for the whole order.
These groups usually buy bulk wholefoods and other products from one of the large wholefood wholesalers. Normally members order whole packs of food, e.g. 5kg rice, rather than having to weigh things out. However if foods are pre-packed i.e. in tins or jars then it is not too complicated to split a case. Buying clubs usually only meet one a month or less often, as these foods keep a long time so donít need to be ordered on regular basis.
It is not as common to buy fruit and vegetables and other fresh produce via an informal buying club, because it many then need to meet weekly rather than monthly. Also, a lot more space may be required to divide up sacks of fruit and vegetables. It is therefore not so convenient to meet at someoneís house and may be better to use a community venue instead. Another option would be to get pre-packed bags or boxes are delivered to one location, where everyone could pick them up.
The main advantages with buying clubs are that they are simple to run, there is very little paperwork, and you are not handling cash. There are also no real costs involved if you are operating from different membersí houses.
The main disadvantage is that these groups generally have to stay quite small to be manageable. Also customers need to be able to pay in advance by cheque and store large quantities of food, which may be more difficult for those on low incomes or in cramped accommodation.