France’s supposed embrace of all things Brooklyn has been well-documented for a while now (très Brooklyn, etc.) but if there’s one thing we sort of assumed they’d be on top of themselves, it’d be shopping for food. (“It’s just so different there, they go to le market—sorry to confuse you, the market—every day and just buy what’s fresh!”- Your friend who studied abroad). But it might not be quite the grocery utopia we thought over there: two American ex-pats are looking to open a Parisian version of the Park Slope Food Co-op, and the idea’s already wildly popular.
Grub Street wrote over the weekend about the efforts of Tom Boothe and Brian Horihan, whose idea for a French version of America’s most famous co-op has generated so much interest that they’re reportedly wary of doing any further press about it, for fear of being flooded with more applications. The idea here is more or less the same as with any co-op, to make quality food affordable for everyone (so maybe cool it with the knee-jerk mockery on this one). “It’s easy for food to be taken over by rich people,” said Boothe. “Food becomes this lifestyle thing, and that’s not vital.” As such, they’re setting up camp in a 13,000 square foot space in the 18th arrondissement, a move they explain like so:
“We had opportunities to put it in more branché neighborhoods,” [Boothe] says, using a word that roughly translates to hip, but Boothe points out that putting the coop in an underserved area helps get high-quality food to the people for whom it will matter more. He calls it a “solution.”
As with many new Co-ops, they’re seeking advice from and modeling themselves after the Park Slope operation, given its proven track record. And again, as with many new Co-ops (the one in Bushwick, for instance), there’s speculation over whether this populist dream will actually draw a diverse sampling of locals, and one longtime resident told Grub Street, “It’s not in the psychology of people in the neighborhood.”
The co-op, called La Louve, won’t be opening until June 2015, but given its success on a French Kickstarter page—the delightfully titled Kiss Kiss Bank Bank—and the fact that an organization called les Amis de La Louve already has 600 members, it seems likely this’ll go well for them (and embolden a series of spinoff in other Brooklyn-loving countries).
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.