‘The perfect spot’: Weavers Way opens new grocery store in Germantown

The new co-op opening comes as the neighborhood experiences a rise in residential development.

Listen 0:47
Jon Roesser

Jon Roesser is general manager of five Weavers Way Co-ops in the Philadelphia region. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Have a question about Philly’s neighborhoods or the systems that shape them? PlanPhilly reporters want to hear from you! Ask us a question or send us a story idea you think we should cover.

On an overcast afternoon last week, general manager Jon Roesser stood on Chelten Avenue to spread the news. After three years of work, Weavers Way Co-op was open for business in Germantown.

“I feel pretty wiped out, but it’s great. We’re thrilled to finally be open,” said Roesser about an hour into the grocery store’s soft opening.

Inside, dozens of wide-eyed customers were already roaming the aisles of the 6,000-square-foot store in Northwest Philadelphia.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

That includes Samantha Moses, who popped in for a bite to eat after getting her hair done across the street.

“The neighborhood is changing but this is very positive,” said Moses near the deli counter.

Samantha Moses grew up in Germantown and thinks the new Weavers Way will be a helpful addition to the neighborhood. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The new store at 328 West Chelten Ave. sits near the edge of Germantown’s central business district, once the city’s second-largest shopping hub outside of Center City.

Those days are long gone, but some residents think a recent wave of residential development could bring them back. And they say the new co-op could help, though Roesser said that’s not why Weavers Way decided to open in Germantown.

While there’s a Save-A-Lot and IGA market nearby, market research showed there was room — and demand — for a natural food grocer in the neighborhood.

Roesser said the organization ultimately moved forward with the $8 million project after finally finding the “perfect spot” for the business.

“We looked at some other buildings in Germantown over the years. One of them was on a residential street. One of them was way too small. One of them was gigantic,” he said.

The store occupies a retail space that sat vacant for nearly a decade before Weavers Way got involved. For nearly 20 years, it was an Acme Market before becoming a state mental health facility, then a vocational training facility. That means the building has a loading dock, a freight elevator and the “bones” of a grocery store.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

It’s half as big as the organization’s store in Ambler in Montgomery County, but not drastically bigger than its stores in Chestnut Hill and West Mount Airy, where Weavers Way got its start in 1973.

“It was designed to be a small grocery store, which fits us like a glove,” said Roesser.

Lucinda Megill Legendre, one of the organization’s 12,000 members, lives about six blocks from the new store. She’s overjoyed to have a grocery store within walking distance.

She bought a shopping cart after learning Weavers Way was opening in Germantown.

“To be able to walk to the grocery store is the kind of life I want my kids [to have] because that’s what we need to do to save the planet. We need to be able to live in communities where we can walk to things. And where that’s our first choice,” said Megill.

The project, which also includes a small parking lot, was funded with the help of state and city grant money, as well as federal tax credits. Members also contributed nearly $2 million to the effort.

The store is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal