What we stand for
Established in 1976, Single Step was at the forefront of the zero-waste, vegetarian revolution long before the supermarkets jumped on the green bandwagon, and we have remained proudly independent.
Ethics are at the heart of everything we do... from the loose goods which enable our customers to purchase plastic-free groceries, to our non-hierarchical structure. Our cosmetics are always environmentally friendly and are never tested on animals. Our fresh, organic fruit and vegetables are as local and seasonal as possible, and none of it is air freighted.
We currently have six members and, as a workers' co-op, we have no overall boss or manager. This means that all six of us are equally responsible for every aspect of the business. As a registered co-op, we firmly share the co-operative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. Like many other cooperatives, we believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
The name of our shop comes from the ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We believe that in a consumerist society, global and social change begin with what we put in our shopping baskets.
Single Step Co-op originally opened as radical bookshop on King Street in Lancaster, selling books on feminism, left-wing politics, philosophy, natural health and wholefood cookery, which also sold dried wholefoods.
Not long after, we moved to our current premises, down the alley at 78a Penny Street – a former wallpaper warehouse.
After some serious renovating, ‘The Warehouse’ was opened – with a café upstairs, ‘Single Step Bookshop’ on the ground floor and a crèche in the basement.
We’re still going strong today, and we continue to operate on the same principles of co-operation the shop was founded on over four decades ago.
In the face of a climate emergency we focus on making wholefoods with a low environmental impact and great taste available to as many people as possible. We always aim to source foods from producers employed in meaningful, fairly paid work.