What is a 'cooperative' grocery store?
As its founders explained, 'Beyiri' is based on a few core principles: horizontal structure and decision making processes, equal relations without leadership, equal pay and building a greater degree of autonomy, one step at a time. The people behind this initiative were driven by the need for decent working conditions, networking with other people that share common ideas and supporting producers who respect nature and humans- for a change!
In Beyiri you will find eco-friendly products that do not exploit human labour or animals: vegetables and pulses, rice, fruit, homemade ‘nutella’, organic wine and raki, dried fruit, handmade natural cosmetics and much more. All products come from selected producers, ‘certified’ via the personal relations they have developed with the people running ‘Beyiri’, who check if their work is in line with their principles.
As for the rest, we will let the people of the co-op to explain. If you want to learn even more and shop healthy natural goodies, enter the narrow lanes of the old city of Rethymno, find the scenic pedestrian ‘Katehaki’ street under the shadow of Fortezza Fortress and look for the small grocery store ‘Beyiri’. Since you probably don’t read Greek, look for its sign with the horse eating a carrot ‘alone’- without a whip.
"In an ideal world...there will be equality, creativity, ‘us’ instead of ‘me’ and love"
What does the word ‘Beyiri’ mean and what is its symbolism?
In the Cretan dialect ‘Beyiri’ means horse. The word has Turkish roots, like many others, so that we don’t forget that the two nations have more in common and nothing to divide. We decided that the horse represents the young horse that hasn’t been domesticated. Our logo then became the horse without a saddle, without a rider with a whip, eating the carrot alone without any illusion of reward.
How do you choose your suppliers? And how can you be sure that they put your principles into practice, in agricultural methods used and production processes?
Initially, we choose to prioritize products that cover the basic needs of a household. The producers we collaborate with produce their goods with respect to the environment and nature, focusing on high quality at the same time. In terms of economics and their relation with their employees, as well as their general stance in society, these producers prioritize their workers’ rights and work together with honesty, justice and solidarity. We would say that we personally know 80% of the producers that supply ‘Beyiri’, we have visited their fields and production units or they were referred to us by people we know and trust. The rest 20% are new acquaintances which we plan to get to know better.
How did the local society respond to your initiative?
In general people support ‘Beyiri’, we receive positive and negative comments and we try to communicate as much as possible with the people that come to meet us, in order to promote our initiative and to evolve by covering more needs even better. We know that the word of commerce is not easy, but we remain optimistic. The fact that more people come to find us and that we keep meeting interesting people we didn’t know before contributes to this optimism, it makes us happy and we hope it continues!
In which other sectors you would like to see similar horizontal forms of structure & organization?
In all sectors! We believe that working places should be run by the employees themselves. In this way, their work will cover the needs of everybody. Therefore, every sector must create working places that allow social interaction and creativity.
In an ideal world…
Equality will dominate, along with creativity, ‘us’ instead of ‘me’ and love.