Dear friends, comrades and acquaintances,
We are convinced that society needs three things: trust, responsibility, and connection. The 21st century is one of loneliness, precisely because we are constantly in contact. Antwerp has an incredible diversity of cultures and yet there’s barely any contact between them. It’s rather hard to change that, precisely because of the cultural differences. However, if there’s one thing that everybody likes, it’s food.
All of us need food. There are numerous places where you can get it, but the most popular one is undoubtedly the supermarket. A supermarket is a place that people prefer to leave as quickly as possible, workers and customers alike. The social potential of the supermarket remains unused.
There are several types of supermarkets. There are shops with low prices and products of low quality. There are shops with decent prices and decent products, which are still filled with bad ingredients and there are supermarkets that claim to only offer organic products and ask exorbitant prices.
All of them do the same things with profit. They pay employees too little for the health risks they take and they distribute the profit among shareholders, who use it to make more profit.
Fortunately, there is an alternative: a cooperative supermarket. A supermarket without shareholders. A supermarket without advertisements and profit-goals. A supermarket by, for, and of the customers.
De Coöperant follows the general structure of success stories from other cities: New York (Park Slope Food Coop), Paris (La Louve), Brussels (Bees Coop) and Madrid (Supercoop, La Osa,…). We believe the same is possible in Antwerp!
The idea is easy enough: everyone who wants to shop at De Coöperant becomes co-owner. Instead of paying a permanent staff, we expect every member to work a couple of hours a month in the shop. In return, you get a gathering place, a community, and better products for a better price.
Would you like more information or would you like to join the project? Send us a mail or fill out this form en we’ll answer as soon as possible.
How does it work?
As soon as you are a member of De Coöperant, you are in.
You choose a working group from which you contribute in the way you like best. We meet at least once a year with all of our members to discuss the project, problems, and new additions.
We work with horizontal decision-making: no idea is too silly, decisions are made using a method of consensus and using ideas brought forward by our members. There is no hierarchy. Whenever we can’t come to a consensus, we try to mobilize all of our members to vote on the subject.
Your contribution is the foundation of the supermarket!
We choose a structure as an ONG or cooperative, which means that we are legally not allowed to give our profit to shareholders.
That allows us to sell our products for about 30% less than you’d pay for the same products in a different supermarket. We can lower our prices because we keep the profit margin very small: normal supermarkets add up to twice the amount they pay for a product, whereas we only add between 10-25% of the purchase price.
In addition, we contribute to the community and neighborhood by supporting other projects when possible.
We choose products that do no harm to others, the environment, or our members.
In our product range, we balance organic, short-chain, and locally produced with an affordable price.
If there is no product that fulfills these criteria, we offer several options.
Every member can propose new products. The purchasers will discuss whether the product fulfills the conditions and add it to our catalog.
Other similar projects have shown us that members work about 3 hours a month to keep the coop operational.
The work, however, is more than filling up shelves: you meet people you wouldn’t have met otherwise and contribute to the project. Problems can be solved within the group you work in, without justification to a superior. This is your space and by cooperating you take up your ownership.
Whilst most of the tasks will involve the workplace, the tasks are diverse. They range from the aforementioned filling up shelves to social media, a paper, accountancy, purchasers… Everyone can do their bit.
- Composing the team 80% 80%
- co-purchase 30% 30%
- Supermarket 15% 15%
We have the vision, ambition, and plan. We are working it out while looking for financing and a location.