Naomi Thompkins: Co-op Strategies

Store front of Greene Hill Food Co-op in Brooklyn, NY

This month I focused on learning more about the Central Brooklyn Food Co-op and food justice movements in New York City. I attended the CBDC Business and Strategy Committee meeting and spoke with committee members about where the CBFC is at in their plans for 2022. The Central Brooklyn Food Co-op planned to open the co-op grocery store before the pandemic started, but the pandemic halted the final stages of the project. The Business and Strategy Committee works on finding a location for the store, creating business strategies based on information gathered from other food co-ops in the area, and connecting CBFC with different professionals that can help with the store opening process. This meeting was a site visit to Greene Hill Food Co-op in Brooklyn. We took pictures of details that stood out to us and did some grocery shopping. We wanted to understand the customer experience at that location and think about how Greene decided to organize and price different products. After shopping and taking pictures, we discussed how Greene compares to the vision of CBFC.

While in Green we looked at how many items were on sale in each section, the variety in the produce, how many products were locally sourced, how many products they had in the bulk section, how many prices were correct at check out, whether they sold alcohol or not, and how consistent their hours were. From a market study, CBFC learned their average customer is a college educated black woman in their mid-thirties. So, we took that in consideration when discussing different aspects of the Greene location. 

Part of the bulk section at Greene Hill Food Co-op

CBFC planned to open a store in September this year, but recently decided to pause looking for a location until they developed an updated timeline with exact expectations for what the store needs. The real estate market in Brooklyn is very different from what it was in 2020, so they are rethinking what features the space absolutely needs at this stage in their planning. For example, do they need space for a walk-in fridge or space for a community space that can be used for programming. They are currently deciding if they should find a place that meets some of the expectations and plan to expand in a few years or if they should take the extra time to find something that meets all expectations now.  For the remainder of my project, I will focus on the work of food co-ops today and how their work translates to food justice and economic reform in marginalized communities. 

Member check in station at Greene Hill Food Co-op entrance

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