What future does La Bonne Pioche in Grenoble look like for mass sales?

Bulk stores have proliferated in recent years. According to figures from Réseau Vrac, which brings together collective professionals, France currently has 920, while in 2015 there were about fifteen. However, after Covid, the French changed their consumption habits. According to a study by Réseau Vrac between May and November 2021, more than 80% of these businesses saw a 20% decrease in their turnover compared to the same period in 2020, due to a drop in participation of around 30%. We wanted to find out what the status is for La Bonne Pioche, one of the leading brands in the industry selling bulk food, cosmetics, household products in Grenoble, according to three criteria: quality, proximity and zero waste. It was founded as SCOP, a cooperative manufacturing company. The principle is simple: You come with empty containers that you fill according to your needs.

Matthias Charre, you are one of six collaborators of La Bonne Pioche. You have been here since 2016. You have made great progress. What about today? Did you feel any public discontent?

We will say that since September 2021 there has been a slight drop in attendance and turnover, which can be explained. There may be an expectation or reality of a decline in people’s purchasing power. We see an increase in raw material prices and thus food prices. At this time, there may also be people who go mostly by car, with home delivery. Remote work has changed people’s journeys. Some who could have stopped with us no longer do so because they are no longer on their route. These are quite multiple factors that could explain this decline in participation here, but more generally in organic stores. There is a marked decline in activity in France today.

Do supermarkets that also start selling bulk products compete with you?

I’m not sure because we place a lot of emphasis on product quality and our ties to local producers. We systematically work directly with manufacturers. As a result, people who come to us come for the quality of our products. They often tell us.

Is a law being drafted that will prohibit you from selling certain products in bulk? what is it exactly? Does this worry you?

Actually, the law already exists. There was a legal loophole and it defined what a bulk sale was. These are the decrees that are currently under review within the framework of this law. One was to ban the bulk sale of certain household products, laundry-type detergents, and powder products. This is because dust can settle on food, for example, or be dangerous for children who can serve themselves, blocking their parent’s supervision. But I think we’re going to move from a complete ban on the sale of these products to more scrutiny.

How do you see the future of La Bonne Pioche?

We are quite confident in ourselves. There is a slight slowdown, of course. But I think, we believe in this circular and economic model, we believe in a local business model where people come to La Bonne Pioche because they know us, they know how we work. We are here to share our experience and knowledge. Recently, two people who wanted to open a mass shop came to see how we work. Finally, if we have several of us in the area, we can combine shipping, warehousing, and even communication!

Matthias Charre (left) and colleague Rodolphe in front of the Bonne Pioche fruit and vegetable counter
Matthias Charre (left) and colleague Rodolphe in front of the Bonne Pioche fruit and vegetable counter © Radio France
Veronique Pueyo