I was one of the early Owners of Chicago Market (#148) — a start-up cooperative grocery that was founded in 2014 — and I have been volunteering with them ever since.
Frankly, I have yet to have the opportunity to walk into "my" co-op and buy anything. So...
Why did I plunk down $250 and buy a share?
Annette and Lee Herman at a recent Zero Waste event at Shedd Aquarium.
My decision was immediate and instinctive. First, I'd had a fabulous experience as a member of Kent Natural Foods Co-op way back when I was in college. Yet even more important, I wanted to be able to contribute in a tangible way to protecting the planet by actively supporting sustainable food production and waste-reduction practices...things I don’t see to the extent I'd like at big-box natural grocers.
As a co-op, we’ve built a strong community of 1,096 Owners over these last few years, gathering in the flesh at Owner events and Co-op Pop-Up Markets – and virtually on social media. Many of you have mentioned you wanted to become an Owner but were holding out to find out where the store would be located.
Well, today’s the day! We have a store location within our intended service area that meets our needs — the beautifully restored Gerber Building, which is underneath the Wilson El at Wilson and Broadway. It’s easily accessible by train, bus, and car (we’ll have a parking lot!) from a number of neighborhoods — from Roscoe Village to Edgewater…and from the lakefront to Albany Park. We anticipate finalizing design plans and construction will take approximately a year or so.
If you’re thinking - "Oh, I love the idea of joining the Co-op, but maybe I’ll just wait until it opens to become an Owner," please reconsider! In order to fund the design and construction, we need to grow our Owner rolls pretty significantly – and pretty quickly. That means your Ownership share in our cooperative, democratically run grocery store is super important in the short term.
If you’re already convinced you want to become an Owner, please join here.
If you’re not familiar with what a co-op is all about or why it’s beneficial to become an Owner, let me share a few key benefits:
- Chicago Market will be Owner-run, not beholden to corporate shareholders
- Each Owner will have a voice and a vote
- More good news: When you become an Owner, everyone in your household can enjoy the benefits of your Ownership (Note: only one vote per Ownership)
- Direct benefits will include Owner-only sales and specials, discounts on workshops and special events, and at the Board's discretion in profitable years, an annual patronage refund of co-op profits based on your spending
- The Co-op will focus on local, sustainably farmed and organic produce, meat and dairy products and a host of other staples and amenities you expect from a full-service market
- We’ll provide complete farm-to-store transparency about the food we sell, its origins and processes
- We aim to be (in fact, we already are) an involved member of the Uptown community, working with local nonprofits to provide employment to under-served populations as well as partnering with neighborhood organizations to strengthen this diverse neighborhood
You can find the complete story about Chicago Market on our website.
I hope you’ll strongly consider becoming a part of Chicago Market. All in all, it's some of the best money I've ever spent.