South Philly food co-op not just for hippies

Co-op President Alison Fritz, holding a massive gourd yesterday in her backyard, is working to build membership.

Focus groups, feasibility and market studies — these aren’t things many people associate with food cooperatives, member-volunteer-staffed grocery stores that sell local, farm-fresh produce and often lean toward the hippie dippy. 

But the South Philly Food Co-op is cooking up a new strategy. Conceived last year, the co-op is working with Wharton Consultants and Keystone Development Partnership to decide what products and services consumers want and where the store should be located for maximum traffic.

“Though co-ops are an alternative business model, at the end of the day, they’re still a business,” said President Alison Fritz, 31, who was inspired to start the co-op after being a member of Weaver’s Way in Mount Airy for two years.

“I think the character of a business is always going to be a symptom of who is leading the effort.
We’re really fortunate that on our committees, we have MBAs, accountants, lawyers, educators and people that know a lot about the food system and know a lot about co-ops. This allows us to be as focused and strategic as possible.”

Despite a lack of a physical location, the co-op is currently focusing on member recruitment through awareness and fundraising events.

“This seemed like a good fit right now with all the things happening in South Philly — new people moving in, the revitalization of the neighborhood. South Philly already has such a rich tradition of food, this seems like a natural extension,” Fritz said.

The co-op is also working on a program to offer members discounts at participating shop-local businesses.

“Since we may not have a store for some time, we want to be able to offer something,” Fritz said.

Who wants in on their co-op?

The co-op is unique in that it began with member recruitment instead of opening a physical location first.

“We’re not interested in starting anything that’s going to fail,” Fritz said. “Any business needs to start with a foundation and we want to make sure that the demand is there first.”

Residents can become member-owners for a one-time investment of $200, which allows them to run and vote for the board of directors.    


Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.


Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.