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South Philly Food Co-op has visited more than 15 potential locations

food co-op

The real-estate committee that’s searching for a site for the impending South Philly Food Co-op has seen more than 15 locations.

And no, they won’t tell anyone where they’re looking.

“Mentioning any specific spot puts us at risk for powering up the rumor mill,” the co-op said in a blog post on its website. “Before we know it, dozens of people will think we’ve found a location and may even join the Co-op because of that spot. That would put us in the very awkward position of having to explain to someone that, in fact, the place they thought we would be opening was just one of many sites considered by the Real Estate Committee. One-way train to disappointmentville!”

The co-op took to its website to explain its process after a lot of members raised questions about the location at the last membership meeting. They also released a form they use on site inspections, which enumerates a two-phase process for evaluating each site. Items on the checklist include obvious things like square footage and rent, plus other items like access to transit or parking and ceiling height, flooring materials and age of mechanicals.

They also noted that if you have a suggestion, question or idea for the co-op, you should email them at

The co-op says they’re on track with their original timeline, which pegged opening for mid to late 2014, so a site could be selected in a matter of months.

So, any ideas where they should look/open?



8 Responses to South Philly Food Co-op has visited more than 15 potential locations

  1. Byron Newport July 2, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    If the priority is that people can walk to it, then I think it makes sense to put it in the Passyunk Square / EPX neighborhood – because that’s where the most member-owners live. Being right on EPA might be cost-prohibitive, but being a block or two off of EPA would still be ok I think.

    If the priority is that people can park, that opens up the location possibilities, but the properties with ample parking in South Philly are more removed from the neighborhoods. Another downside of this is that you lose the advantage of organic foot traffic and greater visual exposure. With good parking, however, people can stock up for the week, able to transport more food home. A location like Greens Grow in Fishtown is a destination. People are willing to drive there because it offers something very unique – and it’s generally easy (at least in my experience) to find a parking spot.

    I think that people would similarly drive to the co-op, but it would have to offer a unique experience.

    My instinct is that the co-op would benefit most from becoming a part of the fabric of Passyunk Square / EPX, and that walkability is more important than parking.

  2. Nate July 2, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    A great spot would be the former bank building at the corner of Broad and Snyder. Its available for rent and Snyder Station is right next to it. The building reminds me of the Mariposa food co-op located in West Philly.

  3. Adam July 2, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    What about the empty building across from Stogie Joe’s? There is on street parking and the municiple lot a block away.

  4. AnthonyG July 3, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    PARKING?! The fact that they even mention that it might be
    part of the criteria is depressing.

    • South Philly Food Co-op July 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      Hi Anthony,

      Our Operations Committee and Real Estate Committee has studied data from dozens of other established and start-up co-ops and worked with a number of co-op start-up experts in setting up the criteria they are using to evaluate locations. This data has informed them that some level of parking – not Acme parking lot level, but one space for every X thousand square feet of retail – gives the Co-op the best chance at generating the revenue it will need to sustain itself. That said, if the ideal structure in the right location at the right price is available and doesn’t have the ideal number of parking spaces, it will still merit serious consideration. Other factors like access to transit or proximity to a given concentration of potential customers also factor into the location equation.

      Don’t be too depressed. One of our hopes is still to have a location and building that respects the pedestrian scale of the neighborhood and engages with the street life around it. If it can do that and have 5 or 6 spaces nearby for those who do want to do a large shopping trip (and spend a lot of money while doing it!) then all the better. Our number one priority remains to open a store in a place that has the best chance of sustaining itself and thriving as early as possible so that our member-owners’ equity investments are protected.

      Thanks for your input. Feel free to email us for more details about the site selection process.

      South Philly Food Co-op
      Marketing and Communication Committee

      • AnthonyG July 5, 2013 at 11:38 am #

        wow… you’re are seriously concerned about parking. unbelievably lame.

        so you studied the data from dozens of other start up co-ops? great, now eliminate those that are not located in a neighborhood that has a similar population density. that will you data that is actually useful.

        • Byron Newport July 8, 2013 at 8:50 am #

          It would be foolish not to factor in parking. “Unbelievably” lame? Grow up.

        • South Philly Food Co-op July 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

          Hi Anthony,

          Thanks for continuing this discussion. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to be as open and transparent about the process as possible. As you can imagine, start-up co-ops from the past several years have opened in all kinds of different spaces and locations including those similar to our area. What parking does for those spaces is increase the shopping area from which the store can draw on customers. For this type of retail, unlike, say, a boutique clothing store or comic book shop or record store, whose items are generally higher margin and can therefore be purchased in smaller quantities, the Co-op will depend on customers who will be repeat purchasers and who make a whole range of different sized purchases. By offering parking at a store in, say, EPX (for example), we enable members (and shoppers) from Pennsport, Newbold, Point Breeze, Grad Hospital, Bella Vista and other neighborhoods where our members live, the option to make a run for a week’s worth of groceries.

          Again, parking is just one of many different factors that the committee is considering but it would be doing our members, who entrusted the Co-op with their equity, a disservice not to make the primary focus opening a sustainable business. We’re all committed urbanists who understand the effect that new parking has on a neighborhood. Since it’s highly unlikely that at this stage we’d be building a store from the ground up, we can have existing parking as a factor so that we’re maximizing revenue while not changing the character of the neighborhood.

          Thanks again for the discussion. We appreciate your interest in our efforts and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this in more detail at one of our upcoming events or at our Fall General Membership meeting.

          South Philly Food Co-op
          Marketing and Communication Committee

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