The type of outlet you've decided to run also affects what type of premises and facilities you need.

For example bag schemes will need quite a lot of space with several tables to lay out produce and pack it in bags. Whereas a stall can often operate in a smaller space.

If you are running a stall you could decide to have it outside, as you may find it easier to attract customers, especially if you are in busy location with lots of passing trade. But do remember that you may need a street trading licence unless you are on private land. Also, you will have to cope with the weather, so may need a covered stall or somewhere to go if it rains. Many food co-ops therefore prefer to be indoors where both volunteers and produce are protected from the elements.

If you are forming a food co-op as part of an existing organisation you may already have your own venue, so just make sure you find a room that has all the necessary facilities.

The main facilities you may require from your food co-op premises are:

  • Enough space to lay out all your produce on a stall, or to pack bags or boxes.
  • Tables and chairs that you can use.
  • Easy access for delivering heavy boxes, preferably on the ground floor.
  • Somewhere for suppliers to park or stop temporarily to drop off deliveries.
  • Toilets and hand-washing facilities.
  • Kitchen facilities to make tea and coffee.
  • Somewhere to store equipment, and possibly food, from one week to the next.
  • Recycling, composting and other waste disposal facilities.
  • Access to an electrical point to plug in scales and/or till.
  • Access to a computer, printer and possibly a photocopier.

This guidance mainly relates to food co-ops that run just one stall or bag scheme. However, larger food co-ops with several outlets often have their own premises to store food and make up orders, and also more comprehensive office facilities. Food co-ops with shops may also have broader requirements depending on what they sell.

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