Bridging the Opportunity Divide

When Its Only Grocery Store Closed Its Doors, This Town Didn’t Have to Look Far for New Owners

October 29, 2014
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When Its Only Grocery Store Closed Its Doors, This Town Didn’t Have to Look Far for New Owners
Members shop at a food co-op in Brooklyn, N.Y. A new co-operative grocery is set to open in Greensboro, N.C. that will provide good quality food and jobs. Chris Hondros/Getty Images
The North Carolina town that took "go local" to a whole new level.

What do you do when your local supermarket closes? For one town, it means you open your own community-owned store.

When the local Winn Dixie shut its doors in northeast Greensboro, N.C. in the 1990s, the area became a barren food desert. For the past 15 years, residents have been waiting for another grocery story to fill the void, according to Yes! magazine, but none came. The community isn’t big enough to satiate the needs of a large shareholder corporation, which has acted as a deterrent for other chain stores.

Left without access to food for too long, the community took the matter into their own hands and started researching. After exploring various options, it decided to form a grocery store cooperative.

Starting next year, northeast Greensboro residents will have access to a store that will provide them quality food as well as well-paid jobs. All workers at the Renaissance Community Cooperative will be paid more than minimum wage, starting at $10 per hour.

There’s a common belief about co-ops that they work best in more affluent communities. However, northeast Greensboro is a low-income and predominantly African-American community, so with the start of the cooperative, the town is looking to break that stereotype.

While the results and success of the co-op remain to be seen, right now it can be viewed as a positive step in the right direction. And, if it does become successful, it will serve as an example and model for other low-income areas to follow.

It goes just to show what positives can come from what first seem to be a devastating event.

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