How do we build a store? How far along are we?

If you're reading this, you probably know how excited we are (and how excited we hope you are!) about our soon-to-be store at 2031 S. Juniper Street. We wanted to dive deeper and explain the key phases of our store building process -- and where we are in it.


We're grateful to our friends at Kensington Community Food Co-op for breaking down the journey to store opening for start-up food co-ops. Through it all, for us at the South Philly Food Co-op, we know we're in good hands with Watchdog, a premier Philadelphia firm who came on board pro bono to provide project management support.

So what do those phases involve?

Timeline to Opening

We brought on board to our project team Re:Vision, a mission-driven Philadelphia architecture firm, who is designing our store. Re:Vision has been hard at work as has completed our initial schematic designs. UNFI, a leader in natural and organic foods, brought grocery-store design expertise to collaborate on the store layout the equipment for the store. We are also getting early cost estimates on our designs to ensure we are staying within our budget.

Schematic Design Collage

This phase has a lot going on including applications for permits, construction contracting, and more! Right now, we are in the process of confirming who our general contractor will be. The general contractor will oversee the store fit-out process, working closely with our Board of Directors and Re:Vision to ensure we stay within our budget. Right now, our space is basically a vanilla shell. 

We need to put in shelves, walls, the front door set-up you see above, and more. The contractor will also bring on board the subcontractors with expertise in the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and other systems. This is when we will finalize our construction contract and solidify our project budget. 

Also, during this phase, our Board of Directors will select a General Manager to oversee operations at the store. Our hiring process is moving along as planned. It has been energizing to meet so many qualified candidates who align to our mission!

This phase signifies that we are about to jump into the construction process -- and it's a time to celebrate! Be on the lookout for a big event in the fall.  

This is go-time for our general contractor and their team. Renovating our space on S. Juniper Street will take about 4-6 months. During this time, you'll notice some changes on the exterior of the building, though most work will go towards fitting out the interior space from floor to ceiling and installing equipment. During this phase, our General Manager will also be hard at work on store planning, testing products and selecting vendors, hiring staff, and training them on operations.

At last, the moment we've all been waiting for! We'll celebrate more here, too -- because who can resist a good ribbon cutting?

Wow, that's a big project. How can I help?

Participate in our capital campaign! We are raising $1 million to bring our store to life. We're over a third of the way there. Can you take us further?

Peruse our website to learn more about how you can help, or drop us a line -- we'd love to hear from you!


Income and Expenses: The Nuts and Bolts (...Literally) of Our Capital Campaign

Exciting news: We are a third of the way to our goal of raising $1 million to stock, staff, and build our store! In this high-energy moment of our capital campaign, we figured we'd take a moment to explain where, exactly, the money we raise will go.


While some money will literally be going to nuts and bolts during the store construction phase, here's a more thorough snapshot of our start-up expenses:
ExpensesWhat goes into each slice of those expenses?

  • Architect, Engineers, & Consultants: We are bringing in experts to make sure we plan and design properly. We've contracted with Re:Vision, a mission-driven Philadelphia architecture firm, that will tap structural engineering expertise as needed. We also previously partnered with United Natural Foods (UNFI) to design our store layout. Find out more about our full project team.
  • Store Build-Out: We need to stock the shelves for opening day! This includes the labor costs and basic construction materials, which will be managed through our general contractor.
  • Equipment: Refrigerators, shelves, and cash registers -- oh my! Take a look at the grocery store where you currently shop, and imagine all the food products are gone. What remains is what we'll need to purchase for the Co-op!
  • Inventory & Working Capital: We need to stock the shelves for opening day, and pay our employees! Plus, we need to have cash to have on hand for, well, anything that may come up in a new business.
  • Startup Staffing: These monies cover wages for our General Manager and store staff for the first handful of months once the store is open.
  • Operating & Administration: These costs are things like our website hosting, bookkeeping and tax preparation, insurance, business licensing, etc.


Of course, we need to raise the other two thirds of that money in order to spend it! So where will this $1 million come from? After years of collaboration and consultation about start-up operations with local and national co-ops alike, here's what we're projecting:
If you are a member-owner, you have already contributed toward that 23% slice of the pie -- of member-owner equity. Thank you! Member-owner equity is an ownership stake in the South Philly Food Co-op. Member-ownership is what makes us a cooperative and is the foundation of our business success. (If you are not yet a member-owner, we invite you to learn more and consider joining today).

Another main source of funds is member-owner loans through the Co-op’s member-owner note program. This program offers a unique social investing opportunity to member-owners of the Co-op.  Similar to a loan -- member-owners make an investment, and the South Philly Food Co-op is responsible for paying you back (with interest, if the member-owner wishes) over 6, 8, or 10 years. Thus far, we have raised $120,000 in member-owner loans! Huge, huge thanks to everyone who has made or pledged a loan to date.

Many co-ops nationwide have solicited member loans for major capital projects, aligning with the third co-operative principle of member economic participation. You can learn more about member loans on our website.


In case you missed it, board member Leigh Goldenberg and capital campaign manager Cate Murray went on Facebook Live a couple weeks ago to answer questions about the Co-op and our capital campaign. You can watch their 15-minute conversation here.

Have more questions about our future store at 2031 S. Juniper Street or the capital campaign? Peruse our website or drop us a line -- we'd love to hear from you!


Food, Justice, Equity -- A Co-op for All South Philly

Co-operators around the world are celebrating the theme of inclusion today during the United Nations International Day of Co-operatives

No One Left Behind

Our goal as the South Philly Food Co-op is truly to be be a hub for community and food-centric education, south of South, river to river--and that means ensuring that the South Philly Food Co-op is an accessible, welcoming, and valuable community institution.

Our recently convened Food Justice and Equity Committee, is leading this charge through our Co-op Community Accountability, Responsiveness, and Equity (CARE) Initiative.

We are listening to community groups and leaders to better understand potential barriers to being a customer or member-owner of the Co-op and gain perspective on how we can support wider inclusion and participation. The committee is also seeking to engage more businesses owned by women, people of color, and immigrants to the Shop South Philly program, recruit candidates for the Board of Directors who are representative of the community, and provide ongoing education to the Co-op community about cooperative enterprise and its role in economic empowerment and anti-racist efforts.

If you are interested in volunteering with this or any of our volunteer committees, fill out our volunteer form!


Last week, board member Leigh Goldenberg and our capital campaign manager Cate Murray went on Facebook Live to answer questions about the Co-op and the Capital Campaign.

The campaign, which kicked off just over a month ago is in great shape! Thanks to our supporters we've received $25,000 in member loan pledges just since Thursday! We've had some wonderful and inspiring conversations with our member-owners about our member loan program

Facebook Live

If you aren't already a member-owner, it's easy to join online. If you have questions about the store--at 2031 S. Juniper Street--or the Capital Campaign, you can find a lot of information on our website, or you can always email

Thanks for all that you do.


Fall 2016 General Membership Meeting Recap


  • Watchdog Project Managers has generously offered pro bono services to the Co-op, and we are pleased to have our long-time real estate committee member Natalie representing us professionally.
  • We are continuing to make progress on the real estate front. We announced at our spring meeting that we were further along in the real estate search than ever before--and that continues to be the case. Rest assured when we do have a location to announce, our members will be the first to know.
  • Peter Frank, executive director of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, gave us an update on yesterday’s City Council hearing on cooperative business. They are asking the city to set aside $2 million to provide technical assistance to Co-ops and seed a loan fund that will help spur successful cooperative development citywide.

We also want to give special thanks to the Aquinas Center for being our gracious hosts for the evening, to John Vena Produce for providing the gooseberries and other fresh fruit and vegetable snacks, and to Sole Kombucha for the delicious samples (may we recommend that you visit our Shop South Philly partner, Vin Cafe, and try the apple cider pumpkin spice--you won’t regret it.)

Other reminders:

  • Members, there is no time like the present to get current on your equity payments! If you have questions, e-mail
  • You can still support the Co-op through our coffee program--we receive up to 50% of the sales of each 1lb bag of South Philly Blend. Order online today!
  • If you are interested in getting more involved with the Co-op, we have volunteer opportunities with our membership, outreach, and marketing committees. Fill out our volunteer interest survey online and we'll match your interests with a committee. You can also e-mail

Thanks again to everyone who joined us.


July 2016 Newsletter: A Time for (Hyperlocal) Cold Brew

Blast those A/C units, embrace the cold shower, hang out in the basement, or just eat lots of ice cream at all hours of the day: These are a few ways I plan to avoid meltdowns (both physical and emotional!) during this blistering South Philly heat wave. I hope you're staying cool, too, and if ice cream for breakfast isn't your thing, might I suggest whipping up a batch of homemade cold-brewed coffee?

In case you haven't heard, the Co-op is partnering with Philly Fair Trade Roasters for a monthly Coffee Program! Sign up today and use our exclusive South Philly Blend in place of your usual joe for a refreshing caffeine buzz. Orders for July must be placed by midnight tomorrow, July 14! Click here for more information.

Read on for all the latest South Philly Food Co-op news, resources and volunteer opportunities for the month of July.

Cooperatively yours,
Carolyn Huckabay, Member, South Philly Food Co-op Board of Directors

Board News: Farewells and Welcomes

This month marks the official start of two new board members' terms in office, so we'd like to give a warm welcome to Katy Travaline and Emily Wyner! We excerpted our favorite parts of their bios below so you can get to know them better:

Katy Travaline: I am working to open the South Philly Food Co-op because I believe the cooperative model is essential to a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system. Eager to make the Co-op a reality, my husband and I joined the Co-op and I started volunteering at tabling events in 2012. Passionate about spreading the word, I have served as the Speakers Bureau Manager since 2012. Outside the co-op, in the process of developing and teaching college courses such as 'Sustainable Food Systems' and 'Cities and Sustainability,' I sought out food producers and distributors as well as city officials and brought them to the classroom. As a Co-op board member, I will represent South Philly as a whole, but I will also bring much-needed representation to residents west of Broad Street.

Emily Wyner: Four days after moving to the neighborhood, I went to my first South Philly Food Co-op general membership meeting. From that point on, I knew this was an organization to which I was deeply dedicated. Coming to the table with passionate experience in food justice organizing, I felt energized to join forces with a community of neighbors who share a common vision: to open a member-owned, cooperative grocery store that makes good food available at a fair price to the residents of South Philadelphia. Outside of the Co-op, I work at a large public health institute, where I lead mission-driven business integration initiatives and have honed my skills in strategic, organization-wide thinking and planning. The South Philly Food Co-op has provided me an avenue to express my values and deepen my connection with a community I am proud to call home. 

P.S. We'd be remiss not to give a huge shout-out to our outgoing board members, Josh Richards and Anna Shipp, for your hard work over the years. You will be missed!


Buzz-Worthy: Order Your Coffee by Thursday!

Calling all coffee lovers: Philly Fair Trade Roasters and the South Philly Food Co-op are excited to announce a new partnership, the South Philly Food Co-op Coffee Program! Place a monthly order in advance -- for as many bags as you like -- and pick up anytime between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at Cinemug.You can join anytime, but to pick up a July bag, place your order by Thursday, July 14 and swing by Cinemug on the 21st. Click here to get started! 

P.S. This special South Philly blend isn't sold anywhere else, so sign up today to give it a try!


Calling All Volunteers: Join the Member Services & Outreach Committees!

Looking to get more involved in the Co-op? Members of our amazing Member Services & Outreach Committees get to have an active hand in engaging our membership, planning educational and social events and interfacing with the community. Even if you don't have time to attend our monthly meetings, you can fulfill your volunteer hours by signing up for one-off committee projects. 

Learn more about this dual committee by clicking here, and to join us!

Where We Live, Where We're Looking, What We Want

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, and South Philly is no exception. From Pennsport to Point Breeze, Italian Market to Girard Estates, Hawthorne to Newbold, each neighborhood within the larger South Philly community has its own personality, flavor and identity.

One thing that binds us all together is the South Philly Food Co-op! If you've ever wondered where your 660+ fellow member-owners call home, here's a peek at our current member map.

Click here to learn more about where we're looking and -- once we find it -- what we're hoping to stock for the South Philly community.

South Philly Food Co-op


Where We Live, Where We're Looking, What We Want

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, and South Philly is no exception. From Pennsport to Point Breeze, Italian Market to Girard Estates, Hawthorne to Newbold, each neighborhood within the larger South Philly community has its own personality, flavor and identity.

One thing that binds us all together is the South Philly Food Co-op! If you've ever wondered where your 660+ fellow member-owners call home, here's a peek at our current member map:


As you can see, we're not simply clustered along East Passyunk Avenue. To that end, the parameters of our search for a permanent location reflect the geographic diversity of our membership. Here's exactly where we're looking:


We can't confirm a location just yet, but rest assured that even if the Co-op is in a neighborhood other than your own, we're doing our best to ensure it's easily accessible by car, bike, foot and public transportation -- so that all of our members, and all of South Philly as a whole, can feel welcome to enter our doors.

Speaking of which, what will the Co-op carry? Our community members let their voices be heard in this recent Product Preferences Survey, in which folks expressed their interest in local, affordable and sustainable options. Check out the full results of the survey here!


Spring General Membership Meeting Recap

Thanks to all who attended last week’s Spring General Membership Meeting, to the East Passyunk Community Recreation Center for hosting us, and and to South Philly Barbacoa for the delicious snacks! 

Coop Meeting

Missed the meeting? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a recap of what we discussed:

State of the Co-op:

The search for a space continues, and as we have said previously, given the inventory and pricing of today's South Philadelphia real estate market, opening a successful co-op will mean finding a development partner who is as dedicated to and passionate about this community as we are. The great news is that we are in conversation with such a partner, about an extremely promising space to call our home.

We are farther along in the negotiation process than the Co-op has ever been before. We've been down this road before (although never quite this far) and things haven't worked out, so nothing is final yet. We'll share more details when we can, so stay tuned!

In financial news, the Co-op generated $5,393 in net income this fiscal year and has $144,055 in total assets. The Board has also engaged local business consultants Elysian Fields to further refine the Co-op’s financial models.

Board Election Results:

Thanks to all who made your voices heard in this year’s Board Elections. Congratulations to returning board members Jessica Calter, Angel D’Ippolito, Alison Fritz, Anna Kiesel, Matt Stern and to brand new board members Katy Travaline and Emily Wyner! And of course, a big thank you to our outgoing board members, Josh Richards and Anna Shipp, for your hard work over the years!

Introducing the South Philly Blend:

Coffee Program

This smoky, savory blend of South and Central American coffee with chocolate undertones is now available through our new buying club partnership with Philly Fair Trade Roasters. Pick up your coffee monthly at Cinemug starting June 16th.  Try it out for just a month, or commit to 3 or 6 months for additional savings. Sales benefit the South Philly Food Co-op and member-owners get $1 off per 1-pound bag, so place your order today!

Product Preferences Survey Results:

The results of our Product Preferences Survey are in with over 160 responses! As a cooperative store, our member-owners will decide what we carry and how we source it.  At the meeting, we dug into how our members eat and shop, and what concerns them most when choosing their groceries (hint: local, fresh, high-quality products at reasonable prices).  To see the full results of the survey, click here.

New Member (Or just want to get more involved)?: 

Attend our upcoming New Member Orientation on June 8. Click here for details and to RSVP.


Product Preferences Survey Results

The results of our Product Preferences Survey are in with over 160 responses! As a cooperative store, our member-owners will decide what we carry and how we source it.  In this survey, we dug into how our members eat and shop, and what concerns them most when choosing their groceries. 

See the full results of the survey here.



May 2016 Newsletter: Let your voice be heard. Let your vote be counted.

May is here, the sun is out (finally), and it's time for our Spring General Membership Meeting! This gathering has been months in the making, and we've got a ton to share. We hope you'll be there in person on May 25 as we:

  • Present the results of our Product Preferences Survey, through which 160+ folks (both members and not-yet-members) weighed in on how we envision our future store;

  • Report on the state of the Co-op, from our current financials to the recent work we've done with local business consultants to position us to find a great, viable location for our store;

  • Vote on the next slate of candidates for our Board of Directors (learn more about this smart and dedicated bunch here); and

  • Get a (caffeine) buzz on! We've got a special treat for our coffee-loving co-operators, so be sure to join us on the 25th for the scoop.
I hope I'll see you later this month at the East Passyunk Community Rec Center! Remember, voting for the Board is the right of all fully paid member-owners, so if you haven't joined or you have outstanding equity, you have a few more weeks to get that in order. 

Cooperatively yours,

Leigh Goldenberg, Member, South Philly Food Co-op Board of Directors

Board Elections: Know Before You Go


Did you know that seven of your fellow member-owners are running for positions on the Board of Directors this spring? We hope to see you at our General Membership Meeting, where all members are encouraged to cast their votes.

Please spend a few minutes reading our nominees' bios and voter FAQs, so you can make an informed decision on the 25th. See you there!

WHEN: Wednesday, May 25, 6:30-8 p.m. (check-in begins at 6 p.m.)

WHERE: East Passyunk Community Recreation Center, 1025 Mifflin St. (click here for directions)

This spring's nominees:

Jessica Calter
Angel D'Ippolito
Alison Fritz
Anna Kiesel
Matt Stern
Katy Travaline
Emily Wyner

More information on this year's candidates can be found here. If you are unable to attend the meeting, you can still vote via absentee ballot until 5 p.m. on May 24. 

Welcome our Newest Shop South Philly Member!


We're excited to welcome another Shop South Philly partner to the fold: CityCare Pharmacy

This locally owned independent pharmacy on West Passyunk accepts most major insurances, and offers services including free delivery within a 1-mile radius. 

Best of all, our newest partners is offering Co-op members a 10% discount on over-the-counter purchases over $10!

Be sure to pay them a visit, and don't forget to flash that membership card for all sorts of sweet discounts at CityCare and dozens of other local businesses. 


Co-ops in the News

From the St. Catharine's Standard: A grocery co-op in Ontario, the Garden City Food Co-op, has launched a capital campaign to raise money for renovations; the former night club with 660 members is awaiting renovations. Good luck, co-operators!

From the Sierra Vista Herald: The Sierra Vista Food Co-op in Arizona celebrates its five-year anniversary this spring! This Co-op began with a community meeting in 2006 with the grassroots efforts of a dedicated group of neighbors. Congratulations!

Upcoming Conferences: The 2016 Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) Conference, Disrupting the Future: Cooperative Food and the Next Generation, will be held June 9-11 in Amherst, MA. Locally, the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Association (PACA) will host Co-Up: A Teach-In for Cooperators on May 14 at Temple. The South Philly Food Co-op will be in attendance at both events, so stay tuned for updates and lessons learned!

March 2016 Newsletter: Five ways to make the best of a short weekend

Daylight saving time is around the corner, so don't forget to set your clocks forward this weekend! While you're sipping your Sunday morning coffee, lamenting that lost hour of precious time, remember this: You've still got plenty of good hours ahead, so we hope you make the most of them! Here are some ideas to help you spring forward: 
  • Save the date for our 2016 Spring General Membership Meeting: Wednesday, May 25, 6:30 p.m.! As is always the case during our spring meetings, we'll be voting in new members of the Board of Directors. 
  • Speaking of which, did you know that you could spend some of those precious life-hours attending board meetings as one of our newest Board members? It's decision time if you're considering joining the BoardNominations are due March 15.
  • Not sure the Board is right for you, but still want to give some of your time to the Co-op? Consider joining a committee. If you're not sure which committee is right for you, dive in and attend an upcoming meeting. Coming up this month:
  • Visit our newest Shop South Philly partnerChaat & Chai!  
  • Finally, if you haven't yet completed it, fill out our Member Product Preferences Survey. I promise that -- unlike daylight saving time -- it will take less than an hour! 

Cooperatively yours,
Nathaniel Cauldwell, Member, South Philly Food Co-op Board of Directors


Due March 15: Board Nominations

Are you considering joining our Board of Directors? Here are the basic requirements:
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Member of a share-holding household for at least eight months prior to election (since September 2015 or earlier)
  • Prior attendance at one General Membership Meeting
  • Prior attendance at one committee meeting
  • In good standing with equity payment(s)
  • Not associated with interests contrary to the general interests of the Co-op
  • Successful completion of Nomination Form
If elected, your term would begin in July 2016 and end in June 2018. Nomination forms are due on March 15; if you have any questions about the election process, we invite you to watch this Google hangout or email us with your questions!

Calling All Volunteers!

If you're interested in becoming more involved with the Co-op, we have a couple of great open volunteer slots that need to be filled ASAP:
  • We're looking for a dedicated individual to be our Volunteer Coordinator! This person is responsible for making sure events are fully staffed, and for placing volunteers with committees and projects that need them most. Most volunteer coordination can be done via email, so if you only have a few hours a month to help but would like to get involved, this might be a great position for you! Please email for more information.
  • Join our Outreach and Member Services Committee! This joint committee coordinates all activities relating to our future and current membership, including member recruitment, event production, new member on-boarding and local business relationship building. Read more about this committee here, or click here to sign up!

Shop South Philly: Welcome Chaat & Chai!

Have you visited our Shop South Philly page lately? It's bursting at the seams with local restaurants, bars, boutiques and service companies offering discounts to all South Philly Food Co-op members. We'd like to welcome the newest member of our Shop South Philly family, Chaat & Chai

To use your discount, just show your Co-op card at the restaurant and receive a free small chai with your order of $15 or more.

Last Chance: Member Product Preferences Survey

We're wrapping up our Member Product Preferences Survey on March 15! Please take a few moments to let us know where you shop, how often, what you like to purchase and -- most importantly -- why. We'll be sharing the results of the survey at the Spring General Membership Meeting this May, so be sure to click here and let your voice be heard loud and clear.