Some people are starting to think differently about the way that they shop. One such group of people can be found in Rouen, France where a shop has been opened which is called La Boite de Conserve (in English: The Can). The shop sells groceries and is described as “collaborative”. There is also a project to have a local currency in the Rouen metropolitan area. According to Maud Richet (2014) writing for Ouishare, both projects are benefitting from a regional support called Eco-region Solidaire, which is helping them to finance a feasibility study to determine if they can progress.
The collaborative grocery store is located on a student campus. It has been lent facilities by a local public institution, but aside from that looks like any other shop. Students identified that there was a problem because there was no easy way to get shopping on campus. There were some solutions but not any that really worked to meet the needs of students. This led to some having an idea to start a collaborative student grocery store. At such a store, students would be able to get good products at a very reasonable price, in exchange for help.
The grocery started out quite small. The goal was to solve some of the problems of the students living on the campus. The store requires membership for individuals to be able to use it, and students who are members are encouraged to help out. They can help with stocking shelves, or perhaps managing the cash register. This is done in an ad-hoc manner and is not required of students. The aim for the grocery is that it will also become a platform for other sharing, such as making it a meeting place, a co-working space, a carpooling place and a couch surfing platform. It is anticipated that different activities will be held there such as cooking classes. There are events like “Disco Soups” to try to transform the attitudes of students and encourage them with the collaborative model. The following video explains what is this collaborative model that is transforming the way we shop, exchange and live:
The other project operating in Rouen at the current time is looking at ways to drive solidarity and the local economy, and one approach is the use of currency. A group of locals created an association for local and civic currency for Grand Rouen (the metropolitan area of Rouen) in June 2014. There is a goal to launch in autumn 2015. To try to encourage the project along the team is working on driving awareness among many different groups, including retailers, craftsmen, small and medium sized businesses and the general public. One of the goals is to try to get local people to be more ethical in their product choices. This is achieved by getting them to buy local products and services that are sustainable. Hopefully, it will create exchange between the different responsible businesses in Rouen. Solidarity is another goal of the project, and there are discussions underway to allow the use of local currency to help people out that are in difficult situations.
The project is not without its challenges, similar to other local currency projects. For success to be achieved in these kinds of projects it is necessary to achieve a critical mass of users and close networks of shops. This needs to go beyond those that are already on board and extend to a wider range of businesses. Additionally, building a local currency requires some elements of nurturing cultural identity. One tip that is recommended is using a name that the local people can feel affiliated with, a design that makes sense at a local level, and a message that is appealing to the local people. A bigger challenge perhaps is that local currencies need to have no barriers in place to their use. If barriers are in place then people will not want to use it. However, one of the biggest challenges of this project to date is reported to be internal governance. It has been hard to get everyone to come to a collective vision, and people are sometimes split on what the best way forward is. This needs to be overcome to ultimately succeed.
Know more about this project by consulting their facebook page:
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.