Southampton’s new independent ethical supermarket - Rice Up Wholefoods
Suraj and I went to stay at a Vegan Guest House called The Barn for a few days. We were gutted as it would be our last stay before the owners retired.
That aside, the silver lining was that they were going to put their energy into opening up a fully vegan store and it wasn't a small affair.
We saw it before they opened and it's huge! For a store that doesn't sell anything BUT plant-based products; it's huge!
It's been open over six months now and they're doing well. I want you to know about this store, so one of the owners has offered to fill you in!
The opening of Rice Up Wholefoods
On 6 July 2013 the doors of the ‘Rice Up’ supermarket opened for the first time. It created quite a stir with more than 100 people waiting on the pavement outside for the moment that ‘The Queen of Veggie Cookery’ Rose Elliot MBE cut the (fair-trade, recycled) ribbon and announced that Rice Up was open for business! That occasion was the culmination of nearly three years’ planning and researching, not to mention the physical hard graft to get the shop ready, by a small group of people who are determined to offer Southampton an alternative food retailing model.
About Rice Up Wholefoods
Rice Up Wholefoods Ltd is a workers’ co-operative which means it is owned by the workers who all have an equal say in the running of the business. There is no management hierarchy and decisions are reached by consensus. The money to launch the venture has come from a number of people who have invested Loan Stock in it. They have effectively lent the business money and will be repaid (with interest if they wish) after a term of years that they specify. They have shown faith in the ideas and ideals of Rice Up.
Rice Up's ideals
Well, for a start Rice Up is an ethical business. It is run by people that believe, for example, in non-violence towards non-human animals. So all the products in the shop are vegan. Rice Up also supports and promotes the principles of fair trade and social justice and wish to limit the environmental impact of the shop and the goods it sells. Rice Up sources fresh organic produce as locally as possible and will not sell air freighted goods. All of the fresh fruit and veg produce is organic. You can read Rice Up’s full Ethical Policy and the details of its aims and aspirations on our website.
What we started with
The shop’s premises were empty when Rice Up took the lease. Every effort was made to use recycled and environmentally low impact materials. Examples of this are that the wooden floor was finished with non toxic floor paint, the exterior sign for the shop is secured to a frame made from old pallet wood and the team working on the shop often used bicycle transport to move kit around (e.g. when hiring floor sanders) and second hand white goods were bought wherever possible.
What does Rice Up Wholefoods sell?
The shop sells a large range of fresh, frozen and preserved food. There are over 100 ‘scoop and save’ bins with loose wholefoods so you can buy just what you need at a reduced price relative to pre-packed food. (Rice Up wants to make what it sells as affordable as possible). There is a deli counter with freshly prepared snacks, sandwiches and cakes. There are big sections selling household, personal and baby products. And of course, a lot of chocolate, sweets and crisps. Altogether there are over 2000 different products in the shop.
The journey so far...
Business has been good since the launch and the coop hopes that what they are offering will be embraced by increasing numbers of local people. You can keep up to date with Rice Up by finding us on Facebook and Twitter and through e-newsletters, which you can sign up for on the web site. But best of all, you can call in and see for yourself!
It is with regret that I haven't popped in yet. However, when I am nearby; I won't miss out on an opportunity to go in and shop, shop and shop!