Portland Food Co-op Opens Membership Drive & Negotiates Storefront Lease


By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,537)

The Portland Food Co-op, 56 Hampshire Street, has launched a new phase of its long-held  plan to expand into the grocery store business on the Portland peninsula.  In order to do this, it needs to recruit 1,000 new member-owners to bring in about $1 million.  The campaign to recruit new members is called “Let’s Open the Doors,” according to a press release issued by Rachelle Curran Apse, manager of the start-up project.  Current negotiations are underway for a possible storefront on the Portland Peninsula.

The new market will be member-owned, but open to the public when it is opened, hopefully early in 2015.  Building on its existing relationships with Mane producers, the co-op will carry local natural and organic products in stock, including meat, dairy, frozen foods, health and beauty products and beer and wine.

“The Portland Food Co-op came out of a community conversation in 2006 about the lack of locally owned grocery stores in Portland.  In the year since, we have built a co-op with over 400 member-owners that has contributed to Portland’s local food scene not only by providing local food and products at a fair price, but also bringing together a community of people who care about what they buy and where it comes from,” said Apse. “This campaign is about bringing that vision to the next level by expanding the co-op’s impact on the local economy and the number of people we reach.  We plan to carry the widest selection of local food and products in Portland.  But we need the investments of at least a thousand new member-owners to make it happen.  Simply put, the faster we can bring them aboard, the faster we can open the store,” said Apse in the same press release.

The Portland Food Co-op was incubated at the Meg Perry Center, Congress Street, which has also been home to many other non-profit organizations. (The Meg Perry Center is currently looking for a new location as it’s lease was not renewed by the landlord.)  However, it soon outgrew the space allocated it and began searching for a new location.

Two years ago, S. Donald Sussman, billionaire hedge fund manager, gave the non-profit a five year, rent-free lease and $44,000 to renovate the building.  Most of the restoration was done by co-op owners on the former tobacco  warehouse.  Sussman, and his wife, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, (D), have a home in the area.

For more information, please visit www.portlandfood.coop