Greene Hill + Park Slope = food coop love at first sight!
by DK Holland
DK Holland of Greene Hill Food Co-op (center) arm in arm with Joe Holtz and
Not so easy to start a food coop! Park Slope Food Coop’s founder Joe Holtz knows this all too well. Not only did PSFC offer help immediately on hearing we wanted to see if we could start one over four years ago, Joe was our first guest speaker at a general meeting. Among other things PSFC did to help was sent out letters from us to their members in our area letting them know we were starting up. And Joe (and Ann Herpel PSFC general coordinator) were two of the first people to visit 18 Putnam Avenue with us to check out the viability of the space, way before we even started negotiating a lease.
While forming Greene Hill to be a totally independent coop, we would still check in with Joe and Ann every few months and, at the end of one meeting after we had started to renovate the store, Joe handed us a $3000 Hobart label printing scale that PSFC no longer needed. He knew Greene Hill could use it soon. This opened up the way for selling bulk goods! PSFC opened it’s books to us, shared vendor information and helped buying strategies. When we opened in December, Joe and Ann were two of the first people we invited over. Their faces beamed with delight declaring we are the first food coop in Brooklyn like PSFC to successfully open a store.
Their candor, constancy and patient enthusiasm has helped in innumerable situations over the past four plus years – and is one important reason we now have a robust store and community of nearly 1000 working members.
Part of PSFC’s mission is to be cooperative with other coops. This mission runs counter to the conventional competitive model but with sales of over 44,000,000 dollars and 16,000 working members, PSFC more than proves the 100 per cent working cooperative model works. Currently PSFC is also helping Bushwick and Bay Ridge, both of which are also 100 percent working food coops (currently operating as buying clubs) as well as the Brooklyn Food Coalition. PSFC members can receive work shift credit at PSFC in exchange for working with other working coops – including Greene Hill.
There are lots of food coops are not 100 percent working, in fact, there are far more than non working or partially working. But cooperation comes from everyone working together (and of course results in enormous savings on labor - savings that are passed on to all members). Both PSFC and Greene Hill have never wavered from the 100 percent working model.
PSFC has now started to refer forming food coops to us. It’s so much easier to see that you can start a coop by looking at Greene Hill because we, unlike PSFC, still have our training wheels on. Soon Greene Hill can start to pay it forward! Let a 1000 working food coops bloom!
–DK Holland is one of the founders of Greene Hill Food Co-op and currently serves as the president and co chair of the Marketing Committee.