As the saying goes, “A genuinely good idea never goes away. It may take time to develop, but it continues to reappear.” This is the belief and reality that Britton Elwood, one of the co-foundersof the Kennett Community Grocer Co-op lives with, along with the Board of Directors.
It has been three years since the idea of a community co-op grocery store was born at a lunch that Britton was having with a friend. In discussing all the changes that they would like to see in the food system, the food co-op idea highlighted many of the arenas that would make the difference-- the most important one of being a grocer created by member-owners.
Member-Ownership will provide the opportunity to make decisions about the best products to provide for oneself and for the community. Residents can be masters/mistresses of their own destiny. The co-op becomes a platform that has the power to support and draw on local farmers and vendors, as well as take on a multitude of roles in assuring residents have access to quality healthy food and products.
In discussing the co-op with Britton Elwood and Meggie Shaeffer, an original Steering Committee member and Board member, their enthusiasm has not waned. They now have a stunning eight-member Board with experienced backgrounds in sustainable agriculture, the health care field, along with public health, marketing and management skills.
They all understand that a good idea is worth developing and are being advised by other co-ops that the best way to create a sustainable community grocer is to build the energy field that will support and contain it. In fact, an average co-op takes 5-7 years to open because of the core principle of creating momentum within the community through Member-Ownership.
Another core principle for the co-op is creating “a welcoming place for the whole community.”The Board understands that Kennett is a diverse community and that inclusion is one of its core values. With this, they have recently applied for a grant to outreach to the Latinx community to bring their voice to the table.
Community members who are interested in becoming Member-Owners but may not have the means to invest the required $300 membership feeis also being addressed by developing a scholarship fund. Interested low-income residents could be sponsored by community donors.
Britton makes it clear that their goal is to work from a hybrid model, so that every income level can shop at the store. They hope tooffer something for everyone with three levels of products from green, clean and conventional. They also will be involved in recovering produce and repurposing food that would have gone to waste, as well as offer bulk items. The Kennett Community Grocer will be a One-Stop-Shop.
When asked how they will partner with the local produce and vendors in the area, they said that they believed that their store will bring people into town, so other shops will benefit. They also can envision partnering with the Kennett Farmer’s Market and local farmers. In fact, they have two farmers recently joining as Member-Owners.
Progress towards opening the store is being based on the growth of the store’s ownership. To date, they are approaching stage 2 of development, when a site-selection committee will be formed, but still needabout another 150 Member-Owners.
It has been difficult to promote the co-op during the pandemic, but the lawn sign campaign held in the Spring helped out and other ideas for marketing are bubbling up.
I have always appreciated the idea of a member-owner grocer, but have stayed in the background while all this work is being done. Britton promises that things move along fast when owner-member threshold is reached and they are happily ahead of schedule.
Recently, it became clear to me that there is a real personal and community benefit to signing up to become a Member-Owner. Along with the other enthusiasts, I am joining the momentum and have signed-up to become a Member-Owner of the Kennett Community Grocer!So now, how about you?
You can join the movement and sign-up to be a member-owner of KCG online at https://www.kennettcommunitygrocer.coop/newmember_owner