More than 200 backers behind a natural food shop are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the business becoming a community-owned co-operative.
The Natural Food Store in Headingley was taken over following a community share initiative in October 2007 after former owners Chris and Sue Sharratt decided to retire.
Worried about losing yet another independent store, residents got their heads together and, with the help of the Headingley Development Trust, each put in money in exchange for a share of the business.
Five years on, the store is thriving under the leadership of manager Stuart McClelland – and Chris and Sue have remained as part-time staff.
Stuart said: “We’re providing a service to the community around us.
“This little section of Headingley is a bit of a backwater but we provide an alternative to the supermarket and people really appreciate us being here.”
Stuart said the store’s aim was to offer an alternative to the major chains, selling good-quality products at affordable prices to everyone from families and students to pensioners.
The shop on North Lane sells everything from organic juices and sauces to big bags of rice and beans, as well as chocolate, tea, cleaning products, health remedies and baby food.
Stuart added: “We’ve never tried to be a 100 per cent organic store.
“It’s about good quality food that people can afford.
“At the moment, the supermarkets are trying to sell very cheap, very poor quality food. We’re trying to sell very cheap but good-quality food, giving customers a real choice.”
Helen Seymour and Rachel Harkess are just two of the approximately 230 people who have shares in the store.
They have yet to see a return on their money but do benefit from a discount, while people who wish to leave the co-operative at any time are given their initial funding back.
Helen said: “We knew it was a good business, we knew it was a well-run shop and we knew that people wanted the food that was sold here. We’re all delighted that the shop has continued to be a success.”