We often read these days about chain stores and family-owned grocery stores that close leaving devoted and frequent shoppers without an important asset to their daily life. Historically, the good news is that community-owned grocery co-ops are much less likely to suffer this same fate.
What we don’t always appreciate when we hear of a grocery store leaving is how it affects the spirit and identity of an entire neighborhood or community. One recent story that stands out is the demise of Eddie’s Grocery Store in a neighborhood of Baltimore known as Mount Vernon. Home to 5,000+ people of moderate income, both individuals and families, Mount Vernon is the cultural district of Baltimore. On Eager Street, Eddie’s stood for decades as a local grocery store, a community hub, and a place where people, especially those without cars, could shop daily for the ingredients of their meals or get homemade prepared food if they were unable or did not want to cook. Fresh local produce, a bakery, a great deli and a butcher section for meats made this special store full-service.
On July 16, many would be daily shoppers stood outside the door at Eddie’s reading the incredible sign which said, “Closed Permanently.” Patrons and neighbors were talking to each other and could not believe what they were reading. One man said that the atmosphere felt like a funeral, and all mourned this loss, talking about its personal impact. Most people in the crowd were shocked, sad, and wondering where they would now go to experience neighborly community and feel safe shopping for their food. The nearest store is a not-very-walkable mile and a half away in a much less safe and friendly area than Mount Vernon. Folks instantly lost an important icon of community spirit and a resource they counted on. A place where more than a few of the shoppers visited daily for the past several decades.
Community engagement or spirit only happens if we have the will to build it. A food Co-op, a Library, an organization like Kennett Collaborative are all important parts of making an area a true community. KCG Member-Owners are working hard in collaboration with all these entities and seeking input from all of you to make this community engagement come alive. Please contribute to this by joining, buying that equity share, and supporting this great, growing community.