KCFC Goes On Tour

What does 9,000 square feet of grocery retail space look like? What about 900 square feet? What kind of financing goes into a new store capital campaign? How long does it take to acquire an old, neglected space, rehab it, and open it to the public?

These are the kinds of questions that pop up all the time when we discuss KCFC’s future store.

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It’s not too hard to track down material covering these topics, but there’s certainly no education better than a hands-on one, walking through an actual grocery store and hearing from the people responsible for its success. That’s why KCFC organized a local tour of three grocery co-ops this past Saturday. Peter Frank, our board’s vice president, served as tour planner, lining up a group of our peers from area stores to serve as fantastic tour guides.  

The first stop was the Creekside Food Co-op, just outside the city in Elkins Park. From our friends at Creekside, which is set to open very soon, we heard about big-picture issues like how to track down the right set of bank loans, along with logistical advice like what company sells the best refrigeration equipment.

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The next stop was at the Weavers Way store in Mt. Airy, which on Saturday was just hours away from re-opening as a refurnished, expanded grocery. The store’s general manager, Glen Bergman, spoke about good store operations, such as how to design for the best grocery sales per square foot or how to develop a product line that serves customers’ needs. 

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Our last stop was at the Mariposa Food Co-op in West Philly. Mariposa, like Weavers Way, recently expanded, and in truly dramatic fashion. Their recent move into the beautiful new grocery store at 47XX Baltimore has offered salient lessons in not just how to construct a new grocery store but also how to do community outreach so that members and the general community share the enthusiasm of your core group. We heard a lot about what it takes to dramatically increase membership and engagement the way Mariposa did.

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This tour is part of the ongoing education of our Planning Committee, which has organized to begin the KCFC grocery store site search. A BIG thanks to Peter and our friends at Creekside, Weavers Way, and Mariposa, as well as Danilo Ghiotto and Chakka Reeves for the pictures. It’s confirmed once again that we’re not alone in this, and that co-ops help other co-ops!

(Sam Newhouse at the Fishtown Star wrote this article about our co-op tour.)

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