Food, Charity, Environment
The place we wanted to shop at didn’t exist, so we thought : Why not create our own supermarket all by ourselves? Not a little boutique… But a full-blown supermarket. We can do it.
Who are “we” ?
1) Humble residents from the Paris area who believe that they can do a better job creating a place to buy food that reflects their ideals in terms of quality, agriculture and commerce.
2) You, we hope.
A little history :
2010 : Tom and Brian, two American gourmets in Paris, both very sensitive to the quality and price of the food they eat, decide to start a kind of crazy project, “La Louve”. The concept is a new one in France: a food coop inspired and supported by the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn (a very dynamic Coop with over 16,000 members).
See a short movie presenting it here:
Spring 2011 : Talking up their project here and there, many people with the same concerns about the food they eat join them in the two following years. That’s when they start the buying club and association called “Les Amis de la Louve”, whose goal is the creation of a big collaborative supermarket called “La Louve”. (“Louve” means “she-wolf”. A terrible name for a supermarket in English, but very pretty to say and hear in French!)
2012-2013 : The project keeps growing, wolf packs start to be organized, and la Louve gets more and more support, most importantly from the City of Paris and the 18th “arrondissement”.
December 2013 : The Buying club will move from the suburb of Bagnolet to its new location in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, the neighborhood of our future supermarket.
Our principles :
Ensuring the great quality of products selected with very high standards in terms of taste, nutrition and freshness, La Louve supports farmers and producers engaged in environmentally responsible, ethical practices.
A non-profit association, la Louve seeks transparency in all its actions : purchasing, sales, management and administration. It is managed and governed by its members who are responsible for providing the volunteer labor (with the help of a few salaried employees) for all the daily tasks necessary for the smooth running of the supermarket.
Concretely, this means that all members have to work 3 hours every 3 months for the buying club, and 2h45mins every 4 weeks as soon as the supermarket opens (See our FAQ).
This model based on volunteer labor allows us to have low margins— and hence very reasonable prices on food for our members— while at the same time paying a fair price to our farmers and producers. The idea of eating better, for less money, while respecting both producers and the environment has a universal appeal. This is why La Louve is committed to making the its collaborative supermarket accessible to all. One of our top priorities is to meet the diverse culinary needs of our immediate neighborhood… and beyond.
La Louve will also be :
- a place to learn about current food-related issues
- a place to exchange and share over good food
Some of our Helpers :
Our sourcing committee is constantly searching for new products, visiting farms, meeting producers, and receiving the advice of different experts. We would particularly like to thank Antoine Jacobsohn, the head of the famous "Potager du Roi" at Versailles (The French national "Ivy League" school for gardening) who directs them to the greatest local fruit and vegetable producers and Xavier Thuret, named by the French government as the best cheesemonger in France ("Meilleur Ouvrier de France"). And for wines, our expert is none other than Tom Boothe, long-time wine buyer in the US and co-founder of la Louve.
This assembly of an “advisory board” is just beginning. Many other ‘experts’ in other domains will soon be joining us.
With your help, La Louve will grow big and strong!
Here’s the situation : The vibrant support given to us by several important municipal figures and institutions has made it possible to establish—rather quickly and on a grand scale— our dream supermarket.
Essential resources, most importantly access to beautiful and spacious premises, are awaiting us.
BUT… this will only happen if we are able to show to the city and other institutions that we can build the project up to a certain point all by ourselves. Attracting enthusiastic new members has been very easy so far—the project sells itself—what we need now is resources to formalize and professionalize our activities… and for that we need money.
The road leading to our Supermarket therefore goes through our buying club… An already existing project through which La Louve’s members order products together that reflect their ideals in terms of agriculture, fair trade and food distribution. As it grows, this buying club will progressively become the Collaborative Supermarket, La Louve.
The buying club is a lab where we try out and evaluate products, a vehicle for the recruitment and progressive integration of new members, and, very importantly, the way that we accumulate the equipment and skills necessary for our future Supermarket.
This funding campaign will enable us to:
- Buy professional equipment : 2 professional refrigerator-freezers, professional scales, and a computer.
- Have our first paid part-time worker, who will coordinate the ever-growing tasks related to the project’s development and ensure the completion of the dossier we submit to funding institutions in 2014.
- Move into a temporary space that will be the headquarters for the development of the project, a recruitment center, a welcome center for our members and supporters in the 18th arrondissement and the distribution site for our buying club.
At the same time—and this is extremely important—the amount we raise through this campaign, as well as the number of contributors who participate, will demonstrate to lenders and other important institutions how much support we can mobilize for the project… This is essential to its success.
And of course we would love to exceed the funding goal we’ve set here…and by far!
We could then:
- Buy a small truck and other equipment.
- Develop the sophisticated web-site we’re planning for the Supermarket, through which the members will be able to check, in real time, the availability of products and learn about their origins and ethical profiles.
- Increase the frequency of distributions for our buying club and diversify the product range even faster.
- Publish pedagogical brochures about the Supermarket and more generally about food and nutrition.
-Make people and resources available that will help those who, in other parts of France (and beyond!) wish to create their own Supermarket based on the same model… That way, the “She-Wolf” won’t be all alone, but could be joined by The Otter, The People’s Newt, The Gourmet Mole…
In the end, that’s what this is all really about!