Co-ops have been part of Philadelphia's fabric for decades, but the city's newest one, South Philly Food Co-op (SPFC), made its own history.
"We're the only co-op [in the country] that opened during the pandemic," says SPFC general manager Lori Burge.
Originally slated to open its doors to shoppers in spring 2020, the store (located just south of the bustling East Passyunk dining and retail corridor) had to pause crucial construction when Governor Wolf's shutdown orders came in mid-March. Fortunately, its supporters were used to taking a long view.
A decade in the making, the South Philly Food Co-op (SPFC) has opened its doors.
Leigh Goldenberg, one of the first 100 member-owners at the co-op in 2011, joined before it had even begun searching for store locations.
To Goldenberg, investing in the co-op early on was a commitment to a future vision of a community-owned and democratically run grocery store.
At the time, Mariposa Food Co-op and Weavers Way Co-op, in West and Northwest Philly respectively, were the only grocery co-ops in Philadelphia—both of which first opened in the 1970s and 1980s. (Kensington Community Food Co-op opened in 2019.)
South Philly Food Co-op is a brand new local grocery store that offers affordable and local produce located in the heart of South Philadelphia.
It is the only community-owned grocery store in South Philly and is 10 years in the making.
"We wanted to be able to give to everyone in our community, we would have potlucks and community meetings to discuss the ongoing lack of food that some people were having, nothing was really affordable," Lori Burge, the general manager at the store.
Burge and her investors started developing ideas and hiring construction firms to build the market that was going to become a dream in itself, but unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic demolished all of those ideas in early 2020.
South Philly is home to many citywide favorites, and now Philadelphians can head to the home-grown neighborhood to check out a true labor of love from that community. The South Philly Food Co-op opened its doors at the end of 2020 after a decade of efforts from community members and is offering locals a way to give back deliciously.