There’s no doubt that the food system needs improving. Unicorn has succeeded in carving out a genuine alternative to the supermarket for its local community, but shopping options remain sadly limited for much of the UK. We think there’s room for a Unicorn-type store in every city, and perhaps more besides. We have no plans to expand outside the one shop, so we’ve put together a guide intended to help facilitate the emergence of new stores run on similar lines all over the UK.
Starting a new business is a daunting process, and starting a new food business in this era of supermarket dominance is perhaps even more so. We have put together a guide based on the model Unicorn has tried & tested since 1996, designed to assist in the establishment of new wholefood co-operatives. The ‘Grow a Grocery’ guide walks potential grocers through all areas of the business, in the hope that it will make starting a new shop an easier process and help existing shops improve and/or expand. Those using it may choose to follow the model wholesale or just to utilise elements of it, and of course to improve it all the while. Unicorn is by no means the only successful model out there, and like any solution is still far from being perfect, but it is something that can be utilised, built upon, and of course improved by others. In a better food system, there would be more places a bit like Unicorn.
The guide is free, and available to download as a pdf here. It is divided into ten sections or chapters,
- Introduction - Who we are
- People - Skills, Employment Opportunities
- Planning - Timeline, The Market
- Produce - What we sell, Sourcing
- Practical resources - Fitting out and equipment, Environmental Footprint, Finances
- Procedures and Pricing - Pricing, Trading, Veg, Packing
- Promotion - Education and Marketing
- Policies and Principles - Principles of Purpose, Registering a Worker Co-operative, Governance and Co-operative Structure
- Permits and licences
- Progress - Personnel, Recruitment, Training
Designed to be used alongside the guide, a range of additional resources (listed on the right) include examples of early business plans, supplier lists, sample rotas & business forecasting tools. Some of these resources are available only on request - please use this contact form explaining who you are. We tend to reserve these resources for people who are planning to operate as worker or community-owned co-operatives/social enterprises rather than for private profit. They are also most useful with a bit of context, so we also like to have a chat on the phone before providing them.
Please let us know if you're keen to start a shop run on similar lines to ours, once you've had a look at the toolkit we may be able to arrange for you to visit us. Email us
And finally, here are a couple of other good sources of information on setting up and running co-operatives (there are many more such links within the guide)