There are some food co-ops which run markets with a variety of stalls or with lots of different types of produce, such as fruit and vegetables, wholefoods and other household products. Food co-ops may also run stalls at other existing markets but this is not always possible, as they may not meet all the criteria needed to attend some markets, such as farmers' markets.
NB The organisation Country Markets has local societies that run over 400 separate co-operative markets all round the country. There are also examples of co-operatively run farmers' markets. Both these types of markets are being supported by other strands of the Making Local Food Work programme.
When selling food at markets some stallholders pre-weigh and pre-price all their produce so that it is quick and easy to sell, as they do not have to spend time weighing things out. They also often price things up to a round figure e.g. £1 for a 1 kg bag of apples so that it makes it easier to handle money quickly as well.
The main advantage of markets is that they are more of a 'one-stop-shop' so customers can buy a wide range of goods in one place so may not need to buy anything from other shops. Markets are also seen as more of a 'destination shopping' experience i.e. they are a fun day out as well as a place to buy food, and often have cafe's running alongside, so people can stop and chat.
The main disadvantage is that you may need a much larger venue or outdoor space which may be hard to secure, especially for a low rent or without the need for street trading licences if it is outside. You may also need a lot more helpers to run all the stalls at a market, unless producers ran them themselves.
Case study - True Food Co-op
True Food Co-op is a not-for-profit organisation based in Reading and serves the surrounding areas in Berkshire. It offers a huge range of organic wholefoods, fresh fruit and vegetables and eco-friendly household products at markets held in neighbourhood community centres. You do not need to be a member to shop at the markets and entry is free. Local people that have excess produce, from growing foods in their gardens or on allotments, can also arrange to bring their produce to markets for selling or bartering or as a donation.