Big Box Stores are often given a bad wrap, though they seem to firmly fill a need in our lives. This bad wrap is often justified for many good reasons. But what if we were to rethink about their function, their form, their purpose, their method? The Reburbia contest got me thinking about this interesting spin on Big Box stores.
Take for example Ikea. If you have ever been in one of these they are huge! I’m not talking about Sam’s club huge or Costco huge, no no, Ikea makes these stores look like mini-me. The average Sam’s or Costco 190,000 square feet, Ikea 300,000 and up!
That is allot of space, what if we could repurpose that space or repurpose the space of an empty warehouse, closed walmart etcetera to become a giant living grocery store. When I say living grocery store, this is what I mean.
The interior of the structure will be converted to a giant greenhouse, where the aisles of shelves are now long raised bed rows of plants that the customers walk down and pick their food. The guy that used to stock the shelves of produce section will now show you how to harvest it all, offer up recipes and dietary advice. All the vegetables and fruit will be grown on site. Chicken and beef will also be done free range in the area surrounding the store and some of the massive parking lot will be converted back to green space. The store’s power could even come from wind mills on the property. Imagine how much better your buying experience would be when its filled with shades of greens instead of harsh lights, neutral color tiles and obnoxious advertisements.
If you have ever been to an EarthFare grocery store, you could have a similar dining area, with daily selections of hot food (they make them daily, all organic and from scratch). Where I used to live, Asheville, NC, the grocery store also had a community center that anyone could rent and yoga, meditation, art classes were held. This store could have something similar teaching classes on gardening, farming, and sustainability etcetera.
Many of us know about the Urban Homestead, path to freedom. They grow 10,000 pounds of produce on a 1/10 of an acre 20 minutes from downtown LA with only four people. If you scale that to the size of Ikea, you are looking at 650,000 pounds of produce! Ikea’s are often built on 40 acre lots, so figure 15 for the building and parking. I have read you can raise chickens under free range conditions at 400 an acre. If you were to bring in feed, you could support a decent number of cows per acre.
Imagine how your relationship with food would change? You would be forced to by local, to by seasonal, to know exactly what went into your food. How would this impact the cost when you eliminate transportation, gasoline, repackaging, and merchandising. Would this work, what are your thoughts on this?