Group working to bring co-op grocery store to Winston-Salem

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Share Cooperative of Winston-Salem is working to bring a co-op grocery store to Peters Creek Parkway. In order for the 10,000-square-foot store to open, the group needs to raise a little over $1 million.

Rev. Gary Williams is a co-founder of the Share Cooperative. He believes the community will come together so that a grocery store can open in the food desert.

"It's a labor of love and we have made tremendous progress in three years," Williams said. "People have come and they are energized and they are passionate about this as we are passionate about this."

Rev. Willard Bass Jr., also a co-founder, said over 270 members have joined the Harvest Market Co-Op Grocery store. The store will have community space for meetings, a deli and grocery staples. The store will feature 70 percent local, sustainable foods.

"When you think of people not having the ability to get food and be healthy, it's a critical part of life," Bass said. "Children cannot go to school ready to learn unless they have nutrition and fed well."

Along with carrying healthy, fresh foods, Bass said the store also needs to carry what its members want.

"One way to do that is to make sure to know the customers buying habits. Last week we asked our members to write down a list of things you buy so we can have an inventory of that kind of thing," Bass said.

According to the Share Cooperative of Winston-Salem, there are 22 food deserts in Winston-Salem. While the proposed co-op market would fill one of the voids, the store would also be able to serve a bigger community. Peters Creek Parkway is a busy street that connects multiple neighborhoods. A large number of people could shop at Harvest Market Co-Op Grocery.

"We are expecting this area to grow but more interesting is the demographics," Bass added. "There's a broad cross section of people, socioeconomic, faith and education. So we thought this would be the perfect place."

Williams said the grocery store needs an operating budget of $2.3 million before it can open. Additional funds could come from private sources and local governments.

"What we are asking for them to do is make a final commitment which is the build out of the store," Williams said.

With an operating budget of $2.3 million, the co-op grocery could be ready for shoppers by the end of the year. The Harvest Market Co-Op Grocery will be open to members and non members.

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