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St. Pete first grocery co-op announces incorporation
ST PETERSBURG – A group of founding members announced the incorporation of St. Petersburg’s first cooperatively owned grocery store. This group of citizens arose and formed out of the New Deal for St Pete, a locally based community group that reflects the actual needs and wishes of city residents.
The New Deal for St Pete grew out of the People’s Budget Review that surveyed 1,400 residents on how they would like to see our city’s resources used. One of four points revealed was for funding cooperative business development, emphasizing the need for a community-owned grocery co-op.
A small group interested in the idea of a grocery co-op came together and attended the “Up and Coming Grocery Co-op Conference” in Milwaukee in March. This once a year conference, attended by 60 grocery co-ops, is a high energy, one-stop-shop for forming, opening and running food co-ops.
This loosely formed group, now identified as the One Community Grocery Co-op and includes Erica Harding, Judith Turner and Leigh Davis, returned home with a new mission and with one of the four $1,100 scholarships given out to attend next year’s conference.
These new founding members returned home to start the process, which on average takes three years to open the doors.
Florida has two other grocery co-ops, New Leaf in Tallahassee and Ever ‘man’s in Pensacola. The One Community Grocery Co-op is the third known grocery co-op in Florida and the first in St. Petersburg.
Forming a grocery co-op can be a complicated process; the Food Co-op Initiative, specializing in grocery co-op development, provides their consulting service at no charge and has been invited by the group to help with the process.
About One Community Grocery Co-op
Founding members have grown to include leader Erica Hardison, Royce Wheeler, Rick Coleman, Judith Turner, Winnie Foster, and Sheral Redwood-Adams. They meet weekly at Pinellas Technical College in the newly formed Food System Center to plan the next steps for building membership.
There is a well-defined process to form a grocery co-op, with an initial milestone of enrolling 300 members that is expected to cost $225.
Florida Cooperative Empowered Economic Development teaches classes monthly at the city’s business assistance center known as the Greenhouse, 440 Second Ave. N and their satellite location at the Enoch Davis Center, 1118 18th Ave. S.
One class per quarter offered is “Steps to Starting a Grocery Co-op” from 6-8 p.m. This class reviews the process that needs to be followed, along with examples of food co-ops and updates on One Community Grocery Co-op.
To learn more about joining the grocery co-op, as a member, board member or a committee to help the process, please contact Judith Turner at (727) 418-6121or Floridaceed@gmail.com