Chicago Market, a community co-op

Chicago Market will change the way you shop for groceries. We’re building a community around local, sustainable food. Not an Owner of our food co-op yet?

On social media, we’ve been featuring the many wonderful reasons
to support Chicago Market. Have you seen our #reason2own campaign?
Here are just a few of our favorite responses:


Today's #‎reason2own is about demand. One of the reasons we want to create a big, beautiful grocery store is to increase the demand for locally grown products and, we hope, encourage innovation in the food scene to increase the types of products available in the winter.


Today's #‎reason2own is from Chicago Market board member Malcolm Haar, and it's about keeping things really local. "I want to shop somewhere that knows that 'Grown in the USA' isn't a good enough label."


Today's #‎reason2own is from Chicago Market board member Anthony Todd, and it's about great food. "I like food that tastes like the soil it was grown in, like real, fresh tomatoes that have that special mineral tomato flavor, not stuff trucked across the country that tastes like cardboard."

What’s your #reason2own?

Send it to us (with a photo, if possible) at [email protected]
and you just might win a beautiful Chicago Market water bottle.

Good Food Festival

Save the Date: Good Food Festival

FamilyFarmed’s 12th annual Good Food Festival & Conference runs March 24-26 at Chicago’s UIC Forum. The Festival brings together consumers, producers, buyers, top chefs, experts, and investors to celebrate the fast-growing Good Food movement. The mission? To put good food on every table.

Join the big, family-friendly Festival on March 26 to shop for local foods at the Good Food Marketplace; learn from chef demos by Rick Bayless, Paul Kahan, Matthias Merges and Jason Hammel; hit the DIY workshops on the Organic Valley Good Food Commons; introduce your kids to Good Food at the Purple Asparagus Kids’ Corner; get lunch at the Good Food Court, and much more.

Curious about our city’s urban agriculture scene? Act quickly to get a seat on the Urban Farm Bus Tour. If you have a business interest in Good Food, or just want to learn more about the movement’s key issues, attend the March 24th Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference and the March 25th Good Food Industry & Policy Conference, which includes the oldest and biggest Industry Showcase focused on local and sustainable food.

Be sure to stop by the Chicagoland Food Co-op Coalition table and say hi. We’ll be there! Go to for more information and to purchase tickets.

Funding Update

Update from the Funding Director

I’m Greg, the Founder and Director of Funding of Chicago Market. It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, but recently, you’ve been hearing about our site-selection process, our market study and our Board’s weekly updates. Have you ever wondered how we plan to fund this wonderful project?

As you may recall from the Owner’s Meeting or a past communication, co-ops are restricted by law and practicality from many of the most-common funding sources. We can’t raise money through venture capital because we are an Ownership organization; we can’t raise money through grants because we are not a 501(c)(3) organization. We have to create our own funding path, and we have.

funding breakdown

Our funding plan is as ambitious as our store. At opening, we project having 3,000 Owners, which will equal about 15% of our budget. We are counting on Community Development Financing Institutions (CDFIs) and the National Cooperative Bank (NCB) to fund approximately 20% of our budget. If we find a feasible space in a TIF district, we can project another 20% there; otherwise, we will make that up from program related investments (PRIs) from foundations. Another 10% will come from government grants and other sources.

But the most significant chunk of our budget are Owner loans, coming in at about 35%. What are they? A tried-and-true method of funding for modern food co-ops. Owners make long-term loans to the co-op under a variety of competitive interest rates and are paid back by the co-op’s financial success. It’s more akin to social investment than speculative investing, and it follows the core co-op philosophy: Owners contributing to the common good for the benefit of all Owners.

But why 35%? Because we need to come up with at least 50% of our budget through Owners before the other funders will contribute their funds. And Owners putting up half the money for our store is something we will all be very proud of.

Right now, your funding team is actively meeting with city officials, foundations and CDFIs. We are working as hard as we can to support Chicago Market’s ongoing Owner recruitment and Site Selection activities. As we increase our ownership and make a decision about our location, we will share the detailed plans of our funding strategy.

With the commitment and dedication of every Owner, we will exceed our funding targets and build our co-op together.

Bulk Up! Success … Stay Tuned

Thanks to all of the shoppers and food producers who attended our super-successful Bulk Up! Pop-Up market Saturday. (And thanks to our gracious hosts at the Swedish American Museum in Andersonville.)

We love bringing you these sneak peeks of Chicago Market’s future as an actual store. Stay tuned for our next Co-Op Pop-Up event later this spring.

Bulk Up!

Have you heard about our Businesses as Owners initiative? We’ve been recruiting like-minded Chicago-area businesses to become Chicago Market Owners. Check out our continually updated business directory here.

We’re delighted to have Gardeneers on board as Chicago Market’s first non-profit business Owner. Don’t know the Gardeneers? They partner with schools across Chicago to teach children how to grow their own produce and lead healthier lives. We asked Amanda Fieldman, director of development for Gardeneers a few questions about the group and its support of Chicago Market.

Why did Gardeneers join Chicago Market?
We are thrilled that Gardeneers has become the first non-profit Business Owner of Chicago Market. We believe Chicago Market is doing more than just opening a food co-op; they are creating a community dialogue with people that believe in creating and supporting a vibrant local-food system. As an organization that provides school-garden programs in underserved communities, we wanted to show our support of Chicago Market and to become an active part of the conversation. We also feel it is important to bring the perspective of the communities we serve: low-income, food-desert communities, where residents do not have convenient or affordable access to fresh, nutritious foods. These are the areas that need our attention and that are often overlooked in the local-food conversation.

What can the average person in Chicago do to strengthen the local-food scene?
Something simple the average family can do to strengthen the local-food scene in Chicago is grow your own! Join a community garden, plant in containers on a balcony, or even just some herbs in the kitchen window!

What’s the future of Gardeneers?
In just two years as a non-profit, Gardeneers has partnered with 21 schools to implement weekly hands-on garden-education lessons. In the next few years, we hope to expand to more schools in underserved communities, as well as increase the amount of time spent at our current partner schools. This will allow us to work with more students in the gardens, grow more food, send more produce to our school cafeterias, and create a bigger impact for Chicago's youth. 



Click on one answer. We’ll report the results in April’s newsletter.

When you shop for groceries, what’s most important to you?

Option 1: Low Prices
Option 2: Organic Offerings
Option 3: Locally grown