After five years of work, CreekSide Co-op opened this week in Montgomery County. A longstanding Philadelphia-based cooperative played an important role in getting the food market off the ground.
CreekSide acting General Manager Andy Schloss said plans for a food cooperative in Elkins Park started in 2007 as a “grassroots community effort” with only three or four people involved.
“We had no money, the building wasn’t for sale [when we began putting CreekSide together and] all we knew was that we wanted it to happen,” said Schloss during Wednesday’s grand opening. “The fact that it actually happened is amazing.”
Early on, Schloss reached out to Glenn Bergman, Weavers Way Co-op’s general manager, for advice. Bergman, whose co-op now has locations in Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill, told Schloss to start with a community meeting to, among other things, gauge interest in the effort.
“The Elkins Park Library meeting room holds 45 people,” said Schloss. “Two-hundred fifty people came.”After only three months of planning, CreekSide had 1,000 members signed up. The cooperative now has 1,400 members.
Bergman and his co-op’s involvement with the nascent organization didn’t end there. Along with Jon McGoran, Weavers Way’s spokesperson, Bergman has sat on CreekSide’s planning board for years as the group worked to secure financing.
“We’ve been very involved for four and a half years,” said McGoran. ” We also invested a few thousand dollars.”
McGoran said Weavers Way helped because it has a commitment to the cooperative model.
A community asset
In addition to CreekSide being a source of good food, community members NewsWorks spoke with said the store fills the void a former grocery store left behind.
Laura Frank, a CreekSide member (as well as former Germantown resident and Weavers Way member), said she’s glad there’s finally a cooperative where Ashbourne Market once stood. The store closed about 10 years ago.
“It was a social center here for the community as well as a source of food,” said Frank. “After it left, there was a hole in the community.”
When Frank, who has lived in Elkins Park for nearly 20 years, heard about CreekSide, she immediately became a member. Not only is she a fan of health food, but she supports the co-op model.
“I’m a member of multiple co-ops, not just food co-ops,” she said. “It’s really important to me that the community owns it, the community determines what’s here, that it serves us and we serve it.”
Catering to the community
While Weavers Way had a strong influence on CreekSide’s formation, Schloss said the cooperative has carved out its own niche.
“We have a very authentic Jewish deli,” he said. “We have this real old-world Jewish edge with a more modern co-op culture and that’s very unique.”
Schloss, who added that there are five synagogues in a mile and a half radius of the co-op, said the Jewish population is an integral part of the Elkins Park community.
CreekSide also is more of a one-stop-shop, added Schloss.
Additionally, the co-op doesn’t have a discount for members, though they’ll still be getting rebates. The store will have monthly member appreciation discounts.
While you don’t have to be a member at Weavers Way Co-op, members do get their groceries a little cheaper.CreekSide is located at 7909 High School Road and will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.