East Greensboro neighborhood advocates for co-op grocery store

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Trying to get a chain grocery store into the Bessemer Shopping Center in East Greensboro has proved to be challenging for people that live in the neighborhood.

The concerned citizens group who live in East Greensboro is talking about starting a co-op grocery store.  In this case it would be owned by investors and people in the community who would also invest.

Fund for Democratic Communities, a non-profit group, presented the proposal of operating a co-op grocery store.

"It would be wholly owned by investors and members of the community and we'd raise funds. I understand there are funds available to assist co-ops getting started so this group would assist us in that area as well," said Greensboro City Council Member, Jim Kee.

Greensboro is looking at modeling its proposed grocery store co-op after Burlington's.

"Each co-op is different, but the way we do it is an incentive.  People ask why put in the money besides support the store. Our owners on the second Saturday of the month save 10-percent on their entire purchase.  That's the immediate benefit," said Stephen Walter, Manager at Burlington's Food Co-Op, "Company Shops Market."

Burlington's "Company Shops Market" features organic and specialty foods like gluten-free products.  

It's too early to tell how similar Greensboro's proposed co-op would be to the one in Burlington, but community investors get a big say.

"The great thing about a co-op is that the community gets to decide what they want in the store, how they want the store to look, how they want the store to operate," said Kee.

And with any luck East Greensboro can do the same thing as Burlington.

"It took a community to do this," said Walter.

The Concerned Citizens Group plans to talk about the co-op more in depth at their regularly scheduled meeting Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the Peeler Center.