Start a BASIC Community Pop-Up Shop in YOUR town!
BASIC Founder Graham Denny explains the ideas behind the Pop-Up Shops.
What we did
Having started a registered charity seventeen years ago, we are always looking for new ways to help our community.
We'd been looking at assisting one part of town for a couple of years and when the opportunity arose we made use of a under-utilised church and opened a 'Community Pop-Up Shop' with the idea to offer affordable food and other products to the local community.
It cost us less than £100 to set up and has been a tremendous success.
We've now realised that this idea can be replicated in any town or city - all you need are:-
A local hall or other facility
A team of happy volunteers
Got them? Or have some venues and people in mind?
Good - let's go!
The first thing you will need to find is a venue.
If you look around any town you will find community and church halls which are not being used to their full potential. I'm sure you can think of one in your area almost immediately!
Have a chat with the person in charge and able to make generous decisions and see if they will let you use it for just two hours per week.
If it's a church it might be a bit easier because you will be doing exactly what a church is meant to do - helping those in need!
It might take a little time to persuade them to allow use of the hall rent free (it took us two years) but with faith a place will become available.
As we all know volunteers are the life-blood of any enterprise like this. They are the people who will make the project fly so be nice to them!
If you are a member of a church it should be relatively easy to find people who want their faith to be 'real' and to be able to see the tangible results of their mission.
If not, it's a very common desire in people to 'do good' in their community. I'm sure it won't take long to find four of five reliable people to help you and share your vision.
Ok, you've done the hard bits - you have the hall, you have the volunteers - whats next?
You are going to need fresh supplies on a weekly basis to offer.
This may sound difficult but I think you'll be surprised at how easily these can be obtained.
Approach you local baker. Bread is always over-produced as it's cheap to make; Ask them for any unsold bread they may have on the night preceeding your sale day. Tell them you will give them publicity.
Their unsold bread would be thrown away - giving it to you will mean it's used and consumed.
Approach ALL of your local supermarkets. It might be a struggle at first - but speak to the boss in head office if need be. Explain about the publicity and 'feel good' his or her store will receive. In France food waste is not allowed and it's law for it to be passed on to causes such as yours. In time we believe it will be the same here - so this is their chance to get ahead of their rivals.
Approach allotment groups. Allotment holders are always quite rightly proud of their produce and many grow a lot more than they need. They are usually very keen to see it consumed by those who want and need it.
We arranged the items on offer on tables leading up into the church as per our photo's. Our volunteers got ready with the tea, coffee and cake and we opened the doors.
As customers arrived we offered them a carrier bag (one which we'd bought from Makro as it's the perfect size) for £1 each, with a maximum of two per customers. If the customer wanted to use their own, often enormous bag, we told them 'sorry no, it has to be our bag'
The customers then filled their bags with whatever they wanted!
This unique idea allows those in need to make their own choices in a different way to food bank referrals. They have also 'paid' for the items - albeit at a highly advantageous rate.
The tea, coffee and cake is FREE or donation as you feel. It's a strange fact but you actually make more money that way than by pricing items and you also offer the items at no cost to those who simply cannot afford to pay.
Our first pop-up sold out in less than 30 minutes. The second did the same and in the third week people were queueing onto the pavement.
We have been amazed at the success and have now offered clothing and cooking utensils at 50p a bag and free children's books.
We've been delighted to see every seat filled in the church and a real community growing before us.
Of course, all the donations for tea etc and the payments for the carrier bags grow and we have found that each week we're buying about £20 of fresh produce - leaving us with a reasonable 'profit'.
In our first month we were able to donate £200 to our local Parish Nurse appeal.
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There are always a million reasons not to do something and always one reason to do a something good.
Do the good thing for that one reason - it is the RIGHT thing to do!
If you feel inspired to do a similar project in your town or city after reading the above then please just go ahead and DO IT!
You will of course, receive opposition, difficulties and you will have ride them out but keep pushing until the pieces fall into place.
There are not many opportunities in life where you can make a real difference in people's lives - this is one of those rare chances - so please grab it with both hands!
If you follow the steps we took ahead we're sure you'll have your own 'BASIC Community Pop-Up Shop' up and growing soon.
If you have any questions or need some advice please get in touch with us and we'll do our best to help.