As someone who tries to avoid shopping in supermarkets, I love The People’s Supermarket. Mainly because it’s not really a supermarket in the regular supermarket sense (if there was an award for the most number of times you can use the word ‘supermarket’ in a post about a shop that isn’t really a supermarket, I’m pretty sure this would be a contender).
The People’s Supermarket (or TPS as we’ll call it from now on) is a lovely find in the centre of London, being independent, community minded, ethical, and all in all a jolly good egg.
It’s run as a co-op and mostly staffed by volunteers. For just four hours a month, volunteers get 20% off all their food shopping there, and a say in how it’s run.
So what does it sell? Most of the things you’d expect to buy in a micro version of a supermarket, but with some very striking differences – almost all of the veg and most of the fruit is unpackaged, with local and British produce clearly signposted. It’s a far cry from the tiny, plastic-wrapped slightly sad display you’d expect in the usual mini version of a supermarket. The variety is impressive; at different times of year, alongside the potatoes, apples, leeks and other usual stuff, you can find kohlrabi, celeriac, spaghetti squash, heritage tomatoes, all sorts. And almost always loose, sometimes still with a nice bit of authentic dirt on it too
TPS like to try and cater to both those on a budget, and for those looking for a higher-end selection of staples, so you’ll see basic tinned tomatoes next to organic ones, your cheap washing up brand next to the Ecover, and so on. And whilst they do a pretty wide selection of your regular sliced bread, there is also the bread table. Enough to make a bread snob like myself happy – sourdough with or without olives, pain à l’ancienne , foccacia, wholemeal, croissants and more are all well-represented here.
Finally, before you rock up to the till, stop by the booze section in the corner. As well as some local beers, there are big barrels of refillable red and white wine, courtesy of Borough Wines.
A quick mention should also go to the kitchen at the back of the shop, which makes food fresh on the premises. The reason it only gets a quick mention is that frustratingly for people avoiding single-use plastic, it comes in a (recyclable) plastic box. But before I swore off the single-use stuff, I can vouch from experience that the chefs there really know what they’re doing.
In a city where sky-high rents are pushing out the little guys, and ethical shopping options are few and far between, TPS is a little veg/bread/wine oasis. So go visit the supermarket that really isn’t anything like a supermarket.