Who They Are
Harrisonburg area residents wanting to keep their grocery dollars local and support the community’s economy are proud to support the Friendly City Food Cooperative, located at 150 East Wolfe St., Harrisonburg. The store, which opened in spring of 2011, boasts such delights as dry grocery goods, meat, produce, frozen food, a deli, a grab & go section, and a cafe-style seating area. The store actively seeks out relationships with local farmers and producers to highlight a broad selection of natural, organic, and locally-produced food and products. In addition, the store has a strong selection of supplements and health and beauty aids, a customer service counter, a small reference library, a selection of non-food household supplies, pet-care products, and general merchandise. The customer-member owned co-op is open to any and everyone and hopes to eventually include a community room that will be available to the general public that will serve as a space for the co-op to offer classes in cooking and nutrition to its member-owners and customers alike. The co-op also serves as a field-trip space for local schoolchildren learning about healthy foods, sustainable agriculture, farm to table concepts, and cooperative community-based business ventures.
Ben Sandel, President of the FCFC says aptly, “Launching the Friendly City Food Co-op has truly been a community-based effort, with our members, lenders, and volunteers all playing a vital role in the process.” The co-op’s entrepreneurial philosophy keeps community as the focal point of all their operations. “The Friendly City Food Co-op epitomizes the type of projects we seek to support, generating downtown revitalization, forging community-based partnerships, and builidng infrastructure that supports local farmers and healthy eating choices,” says Meghan Williamson, Executive Director of the Staunton Creative Community Fund.
The Friendly City Food Cooperative is owned by “member-owners,” each who pay $200 per household membership fee and in return vote annually to determine how much profit is kept by the co-op for future capital needs and how much is distributed back to owners via a patronage refund. While the co-op is member owned, it is open to everyone, and any patron of the co-op may become a member at any time!
How Did You Get Here?
FCFC located its store in downtown Harrisonburg to help revitalize downtown space and to slow urban sprawl. They revitalized an existing building through Harmon Construction Company and launched the co-op with help from a $50,000 loan from the Staunton Creative Community Fund as well as from money raised through the Harrisonburg area community and member-owners, totaling more than one million dollars!