RE: community food store/commissary
From: Rob Sandelin (robsanmicrosoft.com)
Date: Wed, 7 Dec 94 18:20 CST
We are wondering:

2-if you have one, what kinds of stuff do you buy?  any perishables? how is
that handled?

Sharingwood doesn't run a store per se, we run a food buying club, 
which we think is a better idea than a store. We buy large amounts of 
stuff from a wholesale place, then split it.  For example, in the last 
round we bought 10 lbs of almonds, 20 pounds of walnuts, 15 pounds of 
"curly noodles, 40 rolls of toilet tissue, 20 boxes of tissue, lots of 
teas, 25 gallons of soy milk, and such.  In the past we have bought 
large amounts of frozen organic chicken.  We can buy perishables from 
our wholesaler but we have not done so because they come in larger 
quantities than most of us want to store. The thing about doing it as a 
club as opposed to a store, is that everyone orders what they want, 
then we divvy it up and you are billed for it.  You can make the 
divvying up into a party and then its a social event and fun!  A food 
club saves us having to store anything in the common space, other than 
temporarily as stuff is delivered.  We make one order a month now, 
although people have been talking about expanding to one order every 
other week.

The disadvantages of having a "store are:
1. You have to find a secure place to keep stuff
2. You have to absorb the overhead of the cost until someone buys it, 
if it goes bad or stale you have to absorb the loss.
3. You have to keep track of small individual transactions
4. Someone has to monitor stuff getting low and ordering it.
5. Someone has to stock the shelves, rotate the stock, etc.

The disadvantages of doing a food buying club are:
1. You have to wait for everyone to figure out what they want (The 
place we buy from has a catalog- we pass this around with an order form)
2. Sometimes you order something and it is not what you thought it was 
and so you are stuck with it unless someone else will buy it from you.
3. Someone has to place the order and figure who owes what.
4. You have to break up the order into amounts.

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