Those two numbers hold the key to whether the Co-op can qualify for the bank loans and other funding needed to build our community-owned grocery store. Do the math, and it’s clear that the Coop needs to ink 6 new Owners every day between now and the end of the year to make it happen. That’s why Chicago Market is holding events and info sessions at a record pace!
So...what has Chicago Market been up to?
One of the latest events was the August 29 reprise of the original My Buddy’s Mixer last month. Thanks to the efforts of all the Chicago Market Volunteers and Owners who made it happen, this successful event at the Uptown “social grub and pub hub” garnered 8 new Chicago Market Owners!
Another 50 Chicago-Market-curious folks attended the mixer (Thanks, My Buddy’s!) to learn more about what it means to be an Owner of Chicago Market. But that wasn’t all. There was tons of merriment, noshing, friendly banter and even a raffle. And, truth be told, a tad imbibing. Compliments of Candid Wines, founded by Business Owner Damien Casten, came Chardonnay and Malbec from wine co-op La Riojana in Argentina. And Melissa Yen of Jo Snow’s “naturally good syrups” supplied the artisanal flavor (Grapefruit Rosemary, Strawberry Mint Balsamic and Tangerine Lavender Honey) to several vodka-based cocktails.
The highlight of the festivities, of course, was hearing the impassioned experience of four Chicago Market businesses who are buddies and Owners. Here is a bit of what they shared:
Michael Takada, Chicago Market Owner #1042 and CEO, Japanese-American Service Committee (JASC), a social-service agency with a deep history in the Uptown neighborhood.
“JASC has been in Uptown since the ‘70s, when it was founded to help resettle the Japanese-Americans who had been interred in camps on the West Coast during and after World War II. We now provide services for a a number of elderly and underserved populations in Uptown, Edgewater and Ravenswood, including Japanese-Americans, Asian-Americans, Caucasians and Latinos. We also host a lot of programs about Japanese culture, including calligraphy, flower arranging, as well as traditional drumming and dance.
I am thrilled to be a part of the Co-op family…and am thrilled to see all the extraordinary effort being put into making Chicago Market a part of the Uptown community. Chicago Market is like a family. I’m thrilled to be a member of it – and I hope you are, too. Let’s keep it going!”
Kate Jakubas and Mike Mayer, Business Owner #406, and co-owners of Meliora Cleaning Products, a sustainable cleaning products manufacturer in Chicago. (Fun fact: “meliora” is Latin for “better.”)
Mike: “Kate and I have been in business for 5 years, and have found that Meliora Cleaning Products is like Chicago Market in several fundamental ways. First, we don’t just want to have a business, we want our business to be sustainable. Second, we share the same value-driven bottom line: People. Planet. Product. Third, we are completely transparent about our people- and planet-friendly products. If you’re interested in learning about us first-hand, please come to our factory near the United Center and see what goes into Meliora Cleaning Products and how they are made.”
Kate: “We were really curious about Chicago Market and so we decided to join. One of the reasons we did so was to make sure we had a voice in how the store gets built. In the process, we’ve learned that Chicago Market is also about building a community, and a way to connect people to the products that they buy. We love deepening that connection – and we look forward to continuing that process. BTW, please feel free to bring your own container to our factory and buy your products in bulk!
This is the outstanding gift basket donated by Kate and Mike for the raffle at My Buddy's!
Melissa Yen, Business Owner #596 and founder of Joe Snow Syrups, artisan add-ins for coffee, cocktails, sno-cones and other concoctions!
“I started making my syrups when I owned a café. My goal was to make a product that was well-made but not ‘precious.’ And I also wanted it to be a small local business.
Like the others, I am an Owner of Chicago Market because of the community aspect. It’s good to be with people who value what you value and who also want to support local businesses. Plus, it’s nice to be with people who really care about the products they make.”
Thanks, Melissa, for donating your luscious syrups to the raffle!
Damien Casten, Owner #27 and founder of Candid Wines, a distributor or organic, biodynamic and small production wines in Illinois.
“Like Chicago Market, I work with a lot of folks who are cooperative. The wine co-op producing tonight's wine is supported by a community of people who really help one another. When you think about all the effort that’s gone into Chicago Market so far, it’s hard to believe that volunteers have made it all happen!"
If you have the good fortune to travel, go to a local co-op and see all the local products that are available. That’s what’s possible for Chicago Market – and it’s a cool opportunity for Chicago. But it’s going to take a lot more Owners to make it happen, so if you’re not yet an Owner, become one!
Damien's last comment says it all! Please join us in finding other Chicagoans who share Chicago Market's values by helping out at an upcoming event - including the Wilson Underline debut extravaganza, the Up & Under Fest -- a combination pop-up farmer's market and street festival all in one!