Co-op grocery store recruiting

Co-op grocery store recruiting
November 18
08:00 2017

SHARE Cooperative of Winston-Salem is recruiting members to help open its Harvest Market grocery store in the Peter’s Creek area. 

SHARE (Supplying Honest and Respectful Engagement), which is an initiative of Freedom Tree at IDR (Institute for Dismantling Racism), held its first member recruitment meeting at Philo-Hill Magnet Academy.

It’s looking for the community to support its effort to open a co-op grocery store in a food desert, which is an area where fresh, healthy food isn’t available. Lifetime memberships can be purchased for just $100 and will give members a vote in the direction of the store and will also include coupons and monthly “owner deals.”

Co-ops are democratically run by members, which should let it put principles over profits, according to SHARE organizers.

The nonprofit’s goal is to have 300 members by March 2018 and 1,000 members before the store opens, which organizers hope will be in a year. The $100,000 equity raised from members will help the group acquire loans and grants for the rest of the $2.5 million  it’ll need for start up costs.

“We want to show we have commitment,” said SHARE organizer Rev. Gary Williams. “This is not a steering committee talking, this is a community talking.”

The membership fees raised will be used for construction and if the capital raised falls short of being able to open the store, those fees will be returned in full.

The plan is for Harvest Market to be a full-fledged grocery store that carries both organic foods and staples with an emphasis on healthy eating options and locally sourced food. There will be a general manager and staff hired to run the store. Anyone will be able to shop there, not just members. There will be food purchase subsidies available to those who participate in food nourishment training and are involved with the store. The co-op is hoping to finalize a deal for a location soon.

IDR founder Rev. Willard Bass said he hopes the store will serve the community near it, but also reaches those farther way. He said the closing of Business 40 for construction beginning next year will run a lot of traffic by its planned location, giving it a lot of potential customers.

“It’s going to present us with a lot of potential for growth,” said Bass.

SHARE has already received funding for a feasibility study from the City of Winston-Salem and a grant from Kate B. Reynolds Foundation for other expenses. The co-op has worked with consultants to craft its business plan and has looked at other co-ops, such as the Renaissance Community Cooperative in Greensboro, to learn from their experiences.

City Council Member John Larson told attendees that he was skeptical at first, but SHARE won him over with a “very carefully thought out” effort. He’s now a co-op member.

“It has very strong leadership,” said Larson. “More importantly, it has a very strong commitment by leadership to see this through each step.”

The first member recruitment meeting was held last Thursday, Nov. 9. SHARE will be holding more member recruitment meetings next year and will also begin holding membership meetings.

For information on becoming a member, visit 

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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