Weavers Way Officials Discuss Possible Manayunk-Roxborough Food Co-op at Meeting
A community meeting packed Mishkan Shalom Synagogue.
Around 220 people came to a meeting Wednesday to hear about Weavers Way's potential involvement in a new food co-op in the Manayunk-Roxborough area.
With children running around and standing room only available at Mishkan Shalom Synagogue in Roxborough, organizers tried to see how interested the community is in launching a co-op.
"There's no space picked out; there's no set features; nothing is decided," Manayunk Development Corporation Executive Director Jane Lipton said. "If and when we open a (food cooperative), it will be because all of us."
The process launched when a Manayunk property owner approached Lipton about bringing a Weavers Way to his location. When Lipton looped in Weavers Way President David Woo, she said she realized she put "the cart ahead of the horse," but that began a conversation that crescendoed Wednesday night with a community meeting.
Roxborough Community Acupuncture's David Schiman worked to get eager residents out to the gathering. He's partnered with other residents to transform the area around Lyceum Avenue into a community hotbed and thinks a Weavers Way or another independent co-op would further that.
"One thing that I think we would get out of a Weavers Way is having an even greater sense of community," he said, adding the area around Weavers Way attracts other local businesses, which often contribute back to the local economy.
A Third Weavers Way?
Woo immediately gave those in attendance with a reality check by declaring that Weavers Way can't expand anytime soon. Its two-year-old store in Chestnut Hill has stretched its debt too far for it to be able to invest in a third location now.
But he did explain what steps the Roxborough and Manayunk communities need to take before getting off the ground. It could, for example, take several years to launch.
"It involves doing a heck of a lot of work, then more work, then starting to operate the store itself," Woo said.
Weavers Way's membership is $30 per year, and once you pay $400, your equity payments are complete. The co-op makes $15 million annually and has a membership of about 5,000 households.
At this point, Woo said, the Manayunk-Roxborough co-op should start forming three committees—steering, legal/finance and membership/outreach/volunteering. Those groups will form the rough outline of what a co-op could look like.
All specific questions directed at Woo came back to one answer: The community's voice will determine what happens. Lipton held off on directly pressing Woo to give his board a favorable opinion of the Manayunk-Roxborough co-op, but said the 200-plus people in attendance should be a favorable sign.
After the meeting, people crowded around organizers with questions.
Angie Mohammed tends a community garden at Manayunk and Monastery Avenues, which is where she learned about the meeting. She came out Wednesday night with her son, and is very interested in its potential.
"It seems like a great idea for the community. I just wanted to hear the info," she said.
Moon Krapugthong, who is the owner of Chabaa Thai in Manayunk, said she cleared her calendar when she heard about the meeting.
"All of these people here send a real message. This is the best thing that could happen. I have strong support for this project," she said.
Donna Stasiorowski heard about the meeting through Schiman. She was familiar with Weavers Way and wanted to know more about the investment.
"It seemed like you had to be more involved, time-wise, in the past," she said. "This is just a fabulous thing for our community."
Keep up-to-date on the Manayunk-Roxborough Food Co-op through its Facebook page.