Grocery Co-op Eyes Scott’s Addition 

Group plans to open store that focuses on local foods.

click to enlarge Michele Lord and Susan Hill, right, sit on the Richmond Food Cooperative’s board of directors. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Michele Lord and Susan Hill, right, sit on the Richmond Food Cooperative’s board of directors.

Want to own a grocery store? For $125, you can join more than 100 others who have bought in as founding members of the Richmond Food Cooperative, which will be Richmond's only member-owned grocery store.

Cooperatively owned and run grocery stores were at the forefront of the healthy, fresh-food movement that began in the 1960s and '70s. Organizers of the Richmond co-op say there's room in the market for a community owned grocer, even as the once-difficult-to-find natural foods they carry are widely available in conventional grocery stores and high-end outlets such as Ellwood Thompson's Local Market and Whole Foods Market.

"Because our mission is grounded in improving access to local food and supporting our local economy — that's sort of a different vision than most grocers have," says organizer Susan Hill, an outreach coordinator at the Richmond Region Energy Alliance and a member of the co-op's board of directors.

For the $125 buy-in, Hill says, shoppers will get a voice in how the business is run. What it looks like and what products are on its shelves will depend on what members decide best meet their needs, Hill says. If members decide the store should carry only local or organic produce, for example, then that's what the store will do.

She says co-ops generally give members access to higher quality foods at lower prices than a conventional grocery — partially because the store isn't trying to profit and partially because member owners get a discount.

Organizers started their membership drive at the end of January and signed up more than 100 members in four weeks ( They need 800 to 1,000 more, with a goal of opening this fall with a location in Scott's Addition.

Richmond's last food co-op, Fare Share Cooperative Grocery, closed in the mid-'90s. Cheryl Marschak, who served on its board of directors and worked a stint as manager, says was excited and a little surprised when she found out about plans to open a new co-op here. She signed on as a member without hesitation, she says.

"I probably wouldn't have started the effort on my own because natural foods are so available now," Marschak says. "But at the same time, there's a reawakening of people's consciousness around food that goes a lot deeper than just having Ellwood Thompson's in town."

Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

  • Re: Sweet Buzz: Inside the Team Spirit and Creative Force that Powers the Rise of Sugar Shack Donuts

    • Pretty cool story for the third best donuts in Richmond (behind Mrs. Yoder and Country…

    • on April 27, 2017
  • Re: Richmond Food Co-op Comes to South Side

    • Good news, since we will be losing the Martins at 7045 Forest Hill by the…

    • on April 27, 2017
  • Re: Richmond Food Co-op Comes to South Side

    • A word to the wise for Richmond Food Co-op board chair David King: Please make…

    • on April 27, 2017
  • More »
  • Latest in News and Features

    More by Ned Oliver

    • Auto Spying

      Virginia lawmakers are fighting against the use of license-plate scanners by police. But what about the people privately watching your whereabouts?
      • Apr 28, 2015
    • City Explores Tax on Richmond Airbnb Rentals

      • Apr 21, 2015
    • Flash Forward

      Richmond is getting a $54 million, high-speed bus line right down Broad Street. But do we need it? Here are the answers to seven questions you might be asking.
      • Apr 21, 2015
    • More »

    Copyright © 2017 Style Weekly
    Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
    All rights reserved
    Powered by Foundation