On Sunday, Weavers Way officials detailed its upcoming summer renovation plan to its members at a meeting held at 7165 Lounge on Germantown Avenue in Mt. Airy.
General manager Glenn Bergman reiterated the fact that closures in the cooperative community are extremely rare, but the renovations are long overdue.
“Renovations like this should take place every 10 years, not 20,” Bergman said. “So it’s time.”
The closure, he said, was strategically planned during the summer because sales are typically down 20-to-25 percent anyway.
However, Bergman said the cooperative will take measures to ensure it doesn’t take too hard of a hit due to the closure.
The renovations, according to Bergman, should increase sales by 10 percent.
Health and Beauty to share expanded pet store space
The plan includes expanding the co-op’s current pet store location. Crews will knock out an eight-foot wide by seven-foot high hole between 608 (pet store) and 610 (yoga studio) Carpenter Lane. The pet store will remain open during the renovations.
Once the two buildings are combined, the health and beauty products—which are currently housed on the second floor of 559 Carpenter Lane (Weavers Way Market) —will be moved into the newly renovated 610 space.
Changes planned for Weavers Way’s Mt. Airy grocery store
Weavers Way plans to move its bulk items to the second floor. This will free up space downstairs. Another change with the bulk items is Weavers Way will shifted from pre-packaged portions to a self-serve system. Bergman said one of the benefits of the system is that members can gather their own portions according to need as well as use their own containers—which will both cut back on cost for the cooperative and be more eco-friendly.
This also means that work hours for packing bulk items will be cut, but Bergman said that work hours to assist customers in the store will increase.
Weavers Way expects to close its main store at 559 Carpenter Lane in mid-July and re-open late August or early September.
Weavers Way to keep mini-store open
During this time, a pop-up store, will open inside 555 Carpenter Lane selling staples, like bread, milk and produce.
In addition to the daily pop-up shop, there will be shuttle service to the Chestnut Hill store. The shuttle, Bergman estimates, will be running about three times a week.
“That sounds like an expensive proposition,” a woman at the membership meeting commented.
But Bergman said the service is one of his priorities because a member penned a heartfelt letter asking for help getting to the other store, as they weren’t able to drive.
“It’s worth it,” Bergman said. “If it doesn’t work, we’ll get rid of it.”
Bergman also promises that the renovations, although inconvenient for shoppers, will be well worth it.
Why Weavers Way is doing this
He said the cooperative is currently spending around $2,000 a month on repairs to faulty and aging equipment.
Several pieces of equipment, he said, are no longer efficient, such as freezers that aren’t holding in cold air and the cheese case, which has a rotten metal bottom.
But the old being ousted will make room for plenty of new features that will help the store advance, he said.
One of the benefits is the added draw to the pet store, health and beauty store and bulk goods floor.
Bergman said 80 percent of the store’s current sales come from three or less miles away.
He hopes the increased size of the bulk items—the cooperative currently has 400 items it will offer on the floor—will help draw in people from farther away.
“This will be one of the largest bulk departments in the city,” he said. “We’re counting on the bulk sales.”
Bergman also said he hopes the health and beauty and pet store, which currently has the larger percentage of non-local customers, will draw more non-local shoppers in.
The cooperative is selecting a contractor next week. The workers will, according to Bergman, have a penalty for not hitting the cooperative’s timelines in terms of finishing the work.