Mila Mitmach supermarkt: the first participatory supermarket in Vienna

MILA Mitmach Supermarkt, inspired by Park Slope Food Coop, represents a shift in the supermarket concept from being business-oriented to community-focused. As a cooperative, MILA involves its members in every aspect of its operations, promoting fair pricing for high-quality, organic food and fostering a strong sense of community. Julianna Fehlinger, founder and part of our community at Impact Hub Vienna, shares insights into this innovative project.

Julianna Fehlinger.

“In Austria, what is quite special is that we have a lot of supermarkets,” shares Julianna Fehlinger. “But although they offer a lot of organic products already, they are quite expensive, and not everyone can afford that.” In the country, Rewe, Spar, and Hofer account for 84% of the food retail market, according to RegioData Research GmbH. “How they establish a markup for the prices that they decide to sell the products is not transparent. At MILA, we have transparency and a low markup, and it is a fixed percentage of 30%” explains Fehlinger.

Profound community involvement is essential to MILA’s existence. Members contribute beyond shopping; they work in the shop for 3 hours every four weeks in the store’s operations and maintenance. “The level of support is incredible. It’s a true community effort,” Julianna remarks. The involvement of the members can also be spotted in the product selection. “Members can suggest products they’d like to see in the store. For instance, our Müsli and the organic olives were added following member requests,” she adds.

Currently operating as a mini-market in Ottakring, the 16th district of Vienna, MILA aims to expand into a larger supermarket along the Gürtel. The larger MILA will require all members to participate in joint shifts. This expansion plan includes working with about 30 local producers and a wholesale trader offering around 4,000-6,000 products, focusing on local sourcing and minimizing environmental impact. The range of products, from Zapatista coffee to Mafia-free Italian passata, is carefully chosen for its ethical sourcing and unique backstories.

Getting involved with MILA Mitmach Supermarkt!

Anyone can be part of MILA Mitmach Supermarkt. Currently, individuals can become members by acquiring a share that is a unique payment of 180 euros which is then refundable, in case they want to stop shopping at MILA. Once a member, people can start not only shopping but also being involved in the decision-making processes and operations. Heads up! At the moment they have a special for joining! “People can try the membership for two euros for one month, which is nice and it’s up to them to decide if they want to continue or not.” point Fehlinger.

Get to know more of our community members! Here is an interview with the founder of Snowball effect.