Where you choose to run your food co-op will affect its popularity and success. Most food co-ops use venues that are free (or very low cost), as otherwise they have to generate enough money to cover rent on an on-going basis.
Many small buying groups simply run in someone's house. However, if you plan to be open to the wider public and want to attract as many customers as possible you should try to find a location that's easy to get to and that local people already use or know about. It is also a good idea to run your food co-op when there are other activities running in the same venue on the same day, for example a toddler group or lunch club.
For this reason food co-ops often run in premises managed by other community-based organisations, such as community centres, schools, children's centres, church halls or other community buildings.
However, sometimes it can be quite difficult to persuade groups to let you use their space for free, because their main income may come from renting out their rooms. So you'll need to emphasise the potential benefits. Food co-ops can help to revitalise community facilities by bringing in more people, who may then use other services, for example visiting a community café or signing up to other groups or training courses. For community venues, letting a food co-op use their space can help them meet their own targets, such as promoting healthy eating or engaging volunteers.
Key things to think about:
- Will you have to pay rent and if so, how much will it be per hour or per week?
- How much space will be available to pack and/or display your produce?
- Will you have anywhere you can store things from one week to the next?
- How many people or groups already use the venue on the same day?
- Is the venue in a good location that's likely to attract passing trade?