By Logan Grossman, NCC News (Syracuse, NY) — Since 1972 the Syracuse Real Food Co-0p has operated in the Westcott neighborhood of Syracuse. Now, 45 years later, the store is on the verge of a big change.
A co-op or cooperative is community-owned and receives all of its funding from customers, who, in this case, pay an annual fee of $100.
It operates as a full fledged, natural foods store, selling mainly organic and non-genetically modified foods (GMOs). Having no shareholders is both a blessing and curse.
“The challenge is capital,” General Manager Jeremy DeChario said. “We get all of our funding from the community. From our members. From our customers.”
All revenue brought into the Syracuse Real Food Co-Op either goes into stocking and operating the store or it goes right back into the community. Each month, the store picks a cause and they donate a certain percentage of their profits to it. This month, the Co-Op is donating some of its revenue to the Westcott Neighborhood Association which is a group dedicated to addressing any concerns that residents in that neighborhood may have.
However, the Co-Op has struggled to get their message out that the store is open to anyone and everyone. As such, DeChario, who began working at the Co-op as a part-time cashier in 2010, feels it is time for a change.
“A name change and a re-brand to make the Co-Op relevant,” DeChario said. “We want people to know that we are here to serve the community. We are not an exclusive club.”
Naturally, this name change and re-brand is largely in the hands of the store’s customers. The Co-Op has circulated a survey looking for potential names and one of the members will be randomly chosen to win a gift certificate.
Early next week, there will be a meeting with members to discuss the next steps in the re-branding process. DeChario hopes that the entire process is done before the end of August.