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Chicago Market Food Co-Op Launches Ambitious Ownership Drive

By Melissa McEwen in Food on Jun 19, 2014 3:30PM


How would you like to own a grocery store? Chicago Market aims to give you the chance and hopes to be owned by over a thousand people in the next hundred days. Their model of ownership is known as a cooperative grocery store, simply “coop” for short. By joining forces with a large number of owners, they want to build a coop that can serve a large geographical area and become a one stop shop for all their owners’ needs.

Founder Greg Berlowitz says he got the idea from being part of and visiting coops in other cities. Living in Chicago, he found himself driving to five different stores to get groceries for his family and he knew a really high quality coop could sell all the products he wanted. It would also stand out by allowing a greater level of consumer control and sourcing transparency. It would be a force for change in the food system, and he knew other people were looking for this kind of dream store too. So he decided to start one.

“A great coop is big enough to be a full service grocery store - it can replace your grocery store,” Berlowitz said. He envisions a butchery shop, space for community meetings, workshops, salad bar, and of course the hallmark of every great coop - an amazing bulk food section. One of the obvious reasons to be an owner in a coop is to get some control over the selection it carries. Anyone will be able to shop at the coop, but only owners will have a role in governance and be able to serve on the board of directors. There will also be special owner-only sales and benefits, and owners will receive what’s known as a patronage discount at the end of the year, based on how much they spend at the coop.

Chicago Market’s team wants to choose a location that would be easily accessible for people on the greater north and northwest side of Chicago. By the fall they will have their first owners’ meeting and will elect their first board of directors, which will pilot the search for the exact location, which will open in 2015.

On Sunday June 22, they are holding their launch party at the Metropolis Coffee Roasting Garage (5545 N. Clark St.) where prospective owners can learn more about the project and enjoy local food and drink, as well as family-friendly activities. RSVP on their website.

Help Bring A Food Co-Op To The Northwest Side