We had run a small stall at Lawson Park for some years (only stopping when we caught a mountain biker stealing cash from it, red-handed). The project is also associated with Karen Guthrie & Nina Pope's occasional Honesty Tables and myvillages' International Village Shop project which have both operated along similar lines in various contexts.
Coniston's Honest Shop is designed by artist duo An Endless Supply (Harry Blackett & Robin Kirkham) and has now been running successfully since 2013.
It is opened daily 9am-5pm by local volunteers and typically includes produce from over twenty local makers at a time. It provides a valuable opportunity for collaboration and cohesion between local producers, as well as securing additional income for local people.
The Honest Shop stock includes cakes, home-grown fruit, veg and flowers (in season), preserves and ready-meals, as well as craft items and other such products that are generally absent from the shelves of the more regulated shops in the town - all made by local community groups or individuals. Stocks fluctuate and change naturally with seasons and as production and the availability of each item rises and falls - thereby providing a continually surprising shopping experience and making it impossible to guarantee you'll find the same thing twice.
The shop operates on a self-service basis, relying on the honesty of customers to record their sale and leave money in the box for collection. This bespoke, unregulated model for trading highlights the process of exchange, as opposed to commercial consumerism and profit-driven markets. The shop actively contributes to a developing alternative model for the village, one that is driven by individuals, enthusiasms, seasons and goodwill.
An Honest Shop was included as part of our exhibition The Politics of Craft: After Ford 151 in its presentations at both Abbot Hall in Kendal and Glasgow School of Art; designed in this latter instance by Giles Round for APAP Korea.
It also features in Tania Bruguera's Art Util Archive and in the Grizedale Arts-curated show at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, 'The Land We Live In - The Land We Left Behind' (January 20 - May 8 2018).