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New Local Food Co-op Is Opening In Oak Park This Week

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jul 30, 2015 4:10PM

Eating local is great, but what if you can’t make it to the farmer’s market every Saturday morning? Or what if you need a last minute bunch of chard for a Friday dinner party (hey, it happens!) and the farmers market is done for the day?

That convenience and access is one of the reasons why actual grocery stores that focus on local and sustainable food are so important. Luckily, Sugar Beet Co-op is about to bring 7-days-a-week local food goodness to Oak Park starting Friday.

Sugar Beet has been organizing in Oak Park for a little over 3 years. They’re the second food co-op to open in the Chicagoland area (Dill Pickle Co-op in Logan Square was the first new co-op in over fifty years, and has been the only grocery co-op in the city since the Hyde Park Co-op closed in 2008), and the full-service grocery store will be open to everyone. Co-ops are collectively owned by their member-shareholders, who receive special discounts and benefits, as well as a form of profit sharing. Ownerships at Sugar Beet are still available for $250.

Sugar Beet is at the vanguard of a new wave of cooperative organizing, as reported by Crain’s last month. Other co-ops are right on their heels, including Chicago Market, which we covered last year, (Editor's note: Anthony Todd is a Chicago Market board member) the Roger’s Park Food Co-Op and Prairie Food Co-Op.

In addition, the Dill Pickle is working on expansion plans. As Dill Pickle reps announced to their owners earlier this week, they have signed a letter of intent on a new 10,000 square foot space. As the local food landscape continues to expand, it seems likely that co-ops are going to be a big part of the retail side of the scene in the future.

Be aware, however, that tomorrow’s opening at Sugar Beet is just a soft launch. They’ll be fully open for business, but they’ll spend the first few weeks working the kinks out of the system and learning how their new store works. The Grand Opening (which comes with a big party) is on Aug. 14.

Sugar Beet is located at 812 W. Madison, Oak Park, Illinois.