This morning, four co-operators piled into a car and headed down to the north-west edge of Philadelphia, where we were welcomed with open arms by the folks at Weavers Way Co-Op. Weavers Way is a seasoned co-op, established in the 1970s, that has expanded into the sort of co-op utopia we can dream about. They operate two full-service grocery stores, an educational center, four farms, a pet supply store and more!
We spent an hour picking the brains of several incredibly helpful gentlemen—Dean Stefano (store manager for the Chestnut Hill location), Rick Spalek (store manager for the Mt. Airy location), Glenn Bergmann (general manager) and Bob Noble (cooperative business development consultant for the Keystone Development Center). Sipping on organic, fair trade coffee around a conference table in a mural covered building that serves as the headquarters, we were overwhelmed by the generosity and willingness to share information. We filled pages with notes and came home with a stack of valuable resources including newsletters, magazines, a DVD, and a cookbook. We were even given some fabulous co-op buttons. The meeting filled our heads with a huge amount of information, much of which is still being distilled and will be filtered out as we form notes into thoughts and next steps. We were given many contact names and organizations to provide resources (including Keystone Development Center and National Cooperative Grocers Association). Also, we were given contact information for members of the fledgling Doylestown and Creekside Co-Ops, both of which are a couple of steps further in the process than us. The seasoned cooperators also suggested some next steps including formation of a steering committee, writing of by-laws, incorporation, and purchase of a .coop domain name. There will be more discussion of next steps at the March 22 meeting. And, the number one bit of advice we were given: DON’T RUSH.
After our minds were completely blown at the meeting, we headed next door to have a tour of the bustling Mt. Airy location with Rick. The cozy two-story space held more merchandise than imaginable, from bulk herbs to fresh produce to emu eggs to household products to gifts and toys! Click on the photos below for a “tour” of the Mt. Airy location. Part two will showcase the second location in Chestnut Hill!