- COMMUNITY BUILDING EVENTS
- GROCERY CO OP
- NEIGHBORHOOD BEAUTIFICATION
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- COMMUNITY HEALTH INITIATIVES
Old North Grocery Co-op
With a goal of bringing affordable, healthy and fresh foods to the residents of Old North St. Louis, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group established the Old North Grocery Co-op at St. Louis Avenue and N. 13th Street, thanks to generous funding support from the Missouri Foundation for Health, the Greater St. Louis Regional Empowerment Zone, and many individuals and organizations who have contributed their time and expertise. The co-op is now in business! The ribbon-cutting and opening day celebration took place on Saturday, July 17, 2010 with a great crowd of residents and supporters from all over the place. Photos from this event have been uploaded to the Old North St. Louis Flickr page. We also received great coverage about the store on St. Louis Public Radio (click HERE to listen to the story by Veronique LaCapra that aired on St. Louis Public Radio...and later was picked up by National Public Radio, which broadcast a slightly different version of the story on NPR stations all over the country; click HERE to listen to that or to read a transcript). KMOV-Channel 4's report on the evening of the grand opening provided good visuals of the event and the crowd packing the store. That story followed on the heels of Channel 4's Good News 4 a Change segment that aired just prior to the opening. Other stories appeared in print and web media sites: including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ("Food Oasis Will Spring to Life Today"), the St. Louis Beacon ("An Oasis in a Food Desert, New Food Co-op Opens in Old North St. Louis"), and Globe Democrat.com ("Grocery Co-op Ribbon-Cutting Saturday in St. Louis").
When Ken & Nancy Kranzberg purchased the property at 2718 N. 13th Street at the end of 2007, they invited ONSLRG to find a positive use for the building. Since the desire for a neighborhood grocery usually tops the list of surveys of what Old North residents would like to see in the neighborhood, the idea of a grocery co-op seemed like a perfect fit for the space. The 13th Street Community Garden has been planted in the empty lots to the south of the building, and now residents can buy food at the grocery co-op that is grown right outside the doors of the store.
After years of discussion and research, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group received a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health in 2009 to establish and operate the Old North Grocery Co-op in 2010. ONSLRG has received significant help from the Community Partnerships Project of the University of Missouri-St. Louis and MU-Extension (especially Kay Gasen & Kara Lubischer), MU’s College of Agriculture, and the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Architectural students from Washington University (Hitomi Inouye, Daniel Jacobs, and Antonio Pacheco) took on the task of preparing drawings and 3D models to show how the building could be redeveloped to accommodate the co-op, and since then we’ve received a lot of good advice and direction from representatives of E.M. Harris Construction Co. and Clayco Construction Co., and additional architectural services from Mackey Mitchell. The space has also been prepared for use as a grocery by scores of volunteers, from inside the neighborhood and outside groups, who have contributed thousands of hours of work. Most recently, Kaemmerlen Electric and electricians from IBEW Local 1 have checked out, fine-tuned, and upgraded the electrical system. To equip, furnish, and cover other start-up costs, ONSLRG has made a $100,000 forgivable loan to the Old North Grocery Co-op, made possible by a grant from the Greater St. Louis Regional Empowerment Zone.
To coordinate the many tasks necessary to plan for and establish a grocery co-op, a planning committee of ONSLRG staff, neighborhood residents and outside friends has been meeting on a monthly basis. This group investigated membership structures, member benefits, possible products that could be sold at the store, construction and building needs, funding, and other issues related to starting a new business, and continues to explore ways to ensure that the store succeeds and meets the diverse needs of a vibrant and dynamic community.
What exactly is a co-op—and how is it different from a regular grocery store?
According to the Cooperative Grocers Information Network, “a co-op is an organization that takes the idea of working together and puts it into a business structure. A cooperative is a business voluntarily owned and controlled by the people who use it—its members. It is operated solely for the benefit of its members, to meet their mutual needs.” By structuring the Old North Grocery as a co-op, the business allows community residents and consumers from other neighborhoods to purchase memberships as a way of providing financial support for a community amenity. Co-op members would then have a voice in the operation of the business (including votes in election of the Board) and receive discounts on some purchases at the store. To become a member-owner, click on the downloadable application along the right side of this page. The co-op model we are using DOES NOT not require members to work at the store, although volunteers would be warmly welcomed.
Do you have to be a member to shop at the Co-op?
The Old North Grocery Co-op is open to the public, regardless of membership status, with a goal of making affordable and healthy foods accessible to all residents in Old North and its surrounding neighborhoods. For current hours and other information, call the store at 314-260-9276 or visit their website at www.OldNorthGrocery.com. If you would like to support Old North St. Louis Restoration Group's work with the co-op and other healthy food initiatives, please contact Sean Thomas (email@example.com or 314-241-5031).
A vibrant neighborhood needs strong, community anchors and amenities that serve the needs of residents. The Old North Grocery Co-op brings healthy, affordable, and fresh foods and other local or regionally produced goods to the heart of Old North St. Louis, just one block east of Crown Square, at the corner of St. Louis Avenue and N. 13th Street.
Now that the Old North Grocery Co-op is in business, you can own a piece of it! Click on the Member/Owner Application below, fill it out, and return it to the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group or drop it off at the store -- and start telling all of your friends that you own a grocery store.