How many members is ‘enough’?

The idea of forming a bulk buying club may sound like it would involve recruiting lots of people, but that’s probably not the case. Two related pieces of advice shine through a range of published guides to running such a group:

  • Start small
  • If you can, start with people you already know
Continue reading “How many members is ‘enough’?”

Joining the zero waste club?

As today’s Irish Times highlights, a wave of Zero Waste shops and initiatives have sprouted around Ireland and Britain over the past two years, helped by popular campaigns against single-use plastics and a healthy media appetite for the topic. While many of the new initiatives have taken the form of small retail outlets, the bulk buying club model has also been adopted by those looking to go packaging-free, as with London’s Naked Larder.

Continue reading “Joining the zero waste club?”

Don’t let ‘bulk’ put you off

If you live in a small house or apartment with limited storage, the idea of buying food in bulk may simply sound impractical. However, it’s important to understand that with a bulk buying club, bulk ordering is a collective process which doesn’t necessary mean that individual members and households each have to commit to large quantities. Thus, a group may be ordering 25kg sacks of rice or lentils while making it possible for members to benefit from simply taking a modest share, say of 1 or 2kg. In this way, everyone can benefit from the lowest possible cost per kilo but no-one is compelled to take more food than they can use or comfortably store.

Continue reading “Don’t let ‘bulk’ put you off”

Brexit and stocking up

Bulk buying clubs in Ireland have few orders left before 30th March and the possibility of huge Brexit upheavals. Any return of import tariffs would particularly apply in the food sector because of the significant additional rates and restrictions the EU applies to ‘third countries’. Even moreso than usual, then, groups have every reason to plan ahead and stock up strategically.

Continue reading “Brexit and stocking up”

Small Co-ops Are Beautiful

Cover of the book 'Food Co-ops for Small Groups' by Tony VellelaOne of the most practical and useful guides written about running a bulk buying club was published many years ago under the title “Food Co-ops for Small Groups”. By ‘small’, author Tony Vellela explains that he means, potentially, just five or six people and not more than 30. Continue reading “Small Co-ops Are Beautiful”

Cooking up a conspiracy

“When a group of people want to buy food cheaply, but don’t want to pay rent or salaries or have a store and are all willing to work, they have a food conspiracy. Buying club and co-op are other names for this kind of organization, but they also apply to groups with paid managers, storefronts and profits.”

Continue reading “Cooking up a conspiracy”

Q&A: ‘Buying clubs vs. retail therapy’

Screenshot of feature on Pop-Up Wholefoods at Foodture websiteYou can now find a Q&A with Pop-Up Wholefoods on the Foodture website: “Buying clubs vs. retail therapy”.

Foodture is a project aiming to nurture a culture of food citizenship and help build strong community support around Fair Food farmers, producers and more in Ireland.

Big thanks to our friends at Foodture for their support!

About this site

This site aims to encourage and support the setting up of further bulk buying clubs and small food co-ops in Ireland by sharing the experience of individuals who have operated a ‘pop-up wholefoods’ model over a number of years.

Good to know, hard to find

Bulk buying clubs are friendly creatures – but often a little publicity shy! Most are simply ticking along as groups of friends who may have little need to recruit more members. They have no real use for a website or Facebook page and word-of-mouth may well be their only form of promotion. Continue reading “Good to know, hard to find”

Classic start-up checklist

Developing the ‘how to’ pamphlet to accompany this site has meant a rewarding trawl through literature developed by and for bulk buying clubs in earlier eras. One gem from 1983 still provides an excellent checklist of issues to consider around starting a group. Called ‘Deciding Whether to Organize a Food Buying Club’, it was published by the Cooperative Extension Service of Virginia Tech,  a public university in the U.S., which has thankfully preserved and shared the document for the online age. Continue reading “Classic start-up checklist”

The problem with health food shops

I’m always glad that there are small, independent shops that sell wholefoods. The best of them steer clear of the temptation to pack their shelves with high-profit vitamins and supplements, with owners genuinely believing that good wholesome food is the best medicine.

But there’s a problem, still – one that the bulk buying club approach can fix. Continue reading “The problem with health food shops”