Renaissance Community Co-op Holds Grand Opening

November 5 and 6, 2016

The Renaissance Community Co-op is scheduled for its grand opening this Friday and Saturday, November 5 and 6, 2016, the event spanning two days.

It will culminate with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. Saturday at the co-op, 2517 Phillips Ave. At that event, elected officials and partners in the project will speak and welcome community members to the new grocery store before slicing the ribbon. After that, the public is invited to stay for a community fun day with games and food.

The event kicks off the evening before. Beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, organizers will speak at the N.C. A&T Alumni Event Center at 200 N. Benbow Road about the motivation behind the project and how the co-op fits into a longer-term vision for community self-determination in northeast Greensboro.

Members of the public are invited to attend both events.

The Food Research & Action Center, the leading national nonprofit working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and under-nutrition in the United States, consistently rates the Greensboro-High Point area as one of the most food-insecure areas of the country. The area came in ninth on the 2016 list.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Greensboro is home to numerous census tracts classified as “food deserts,” where a third or more of the population lives more than a mile from a supermarket or large grocery store in urban areas and more than 10 miles from a supermarket or large grocery store in rural areas.

Northeast Greensboro has been one of these food deserts since 1998 when the Winn-Dixie on Phillips Avenue closed. For the first time in 18 years, many community members will have a grocery store within walking distance.

In contrast to large corporate chain stores, the co-op is owned by the community. Almost 1,000 local residents have purchased ownership shares in the co-op, allowing them to help decide what products it carries, serve on the board of directors that oversees the management, and play a role in determining what is done with profit generated by the store.

Community members launched the initiative to open the co-op following a successful fight to stop the reopening of the White Street Landfill several years ago.

The store held its “soft launch” of the co-op on October 14, and is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Everyone is welcome to shop at the store, whether or not they are an owner.

The grocery store will employ 28 people and is expected to generate weekly revenues of about $71,000 per week in its first year. The building measures 10,530 square feet. Plans for its construction date to 2013 when the city of Greensboro began soliciting proposals to redevelop what had been known as Bessemer Center. It was later rechristened as Renaissance Shops. Self-Help Ventures Fund wound up taking over the property in January 2015.

Steve Huffman is a general assignment reporter for Triad Business Journal.

Oct 31, 2016

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