GM's Corner: Grocery Co-op Day is Coming — and We Need Your Help to Make it Great

Jon Roesser, Weavers Way General Manager

Mayor Kenney has proclaimed Saturday, Oct. 19 to be the first-ever Philadelphia Grocery Co-op Day, a celebration of the consumer-owned food co-ops in and around the city. 

When a major public figure is prepared to herald your organization and the important work you do – especially when their progressive values are as closely aligned to the Co-op’s Ends as Mayor Kenney’s are – you seize the opportunity. And so Weavers Way intends to use Co-op Day as a chance to tell our story. 

For starters, we want to highlight that we’re part of a bigger (and growing) movement. Besides our three stores, there are four other food co-ops in the region. Swarthmore Co-op is right in the heart of Swarthmore borough. It was founded in 1937 and is one of the oldest co-ops in the country. Mariposa Food Co-op on Baltimore Avenue in West Philly started in 1972, making it a year older than Weavers Way. We also now have the Kensington Community Food Co-op, which opened earlier this year at Frankford and Lehigh avenues. And soon we’ll be joined by the South Philly Food Co-op, currently under construction on Juniper Street near Snyder Avenue. Combined, the five Philadelphia co-ops have annual sales of over $42 million and employ over 300 people. 

We also want to highlight how as cooperatives we represent an alternative business model that many are unfamiliar with, but which gives communities economic independence from the whims of out-of-town corporate grocers. Oh, and that everyone, including folks who aren’t member-owners, are welcome to shop in our stores.

Finally, we want to highlight the critical role that Weavers Way and the other food co-ops play in supporting the Philadelphia food shed. After decades of decline, the local food scene is resurgent. New farmers, bakers, coffee roasters, ice cream makers and a host of other food producers are breathing new vitality into the region. 

These growers and producers need access to the marketplace, and co-ops provide the critical link between them and values-conscious consumers. Together, the five area food co-ops support over 500 local vendors. 

Co-op Day itself will be a fun day to shop. There will be lots of product demos (especially in Ambler, where we have plenty of room for them) and member specials throughout the stores. (Please note that in Chestnut Hill it is the same day as the Witches and Wizards Festival, or whatever they’re calling it these days). 

We’re asking you, our member-owners, to get involved on Co-op Day in two ways. 

First, bring a friend or neighbor, someone who’s unfamiliar with Weavers Way, to shop with you on Co-op Day. If they decide to become a member, they’ll get an awesome bag of goodies as a welcome gift, and you’ll receive a $25 referral bonus added to your Easy Pay account. Heck, bring as many friends and neighbors as you can! 

Second, stop by any of our stores and pick up a Co-op Passport. Between Co-op Day and the end of October, take your passport with you and visit one or more of the other four co-ops in the region. They’ll be expecting your visit and will be glad to see you! Get your passport stamped when you go and you’ll get Thank You gifts for paying our co-op neighbors a visit (details will be on the passports themselves). 

More than anything, as we celebrate Co-op Day and enjoy some well-earned local media coverage, we ask you to be our evangelizers. Too many folks don’t know what co-ops are all about. Our alternative business model, one that is dedicated to shared prosperity and ethically conscious business practices, can play a great role in the region’s economy if we can help spread the word about who we are, what we do, and why we’re better. 

That’s worth a proclamation! 

See you around the Co-op.