Food Co-ops are on the Rise in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has a large co-op community made up of a variety of cooperatives. According to the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA), a nonprofit dedicated to growing the cooperative economy and building a movement for economic justice, there are at least 35 co-ops operating in Philadelphia in the consumer, worker, housing, education, and marketing fields. Seven new co-ops have opened in the past 12 months alone. PACA surveyed 14 co-ops in the Philadelphia area, including consumer co-ops, worker co-ops, and housing co-ops. Combined, their economic impact included $52.4 M in annual revenue and 604 people employed.

Co-ops have no private owners and are designed to sustain themselves through group ownership by member-customers who invest in the business and funds by a combination of grants, loans, and donations.  Food co-ops are an active part of the consumer cooperatives sector and PIDC is a proud investor in food co-ops around the city. We chatted with a few co-op leaders about their businesses and how PIDC is supporting their growth.

Weavers Way Cooperative Association

Operating since 1973, Weavers Way Cooperative Association is a member-owned cooperative grocery with locations in Northwest Philadelphia and Ambler.

It offers a friendly shopping environment and reasonably priced, high-quality products that are local, sustainable, organic, fairly traded and healthful. It was with PIDC’s assistance that Weavers Way began to expand as they opened a store on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill in 2010. “As a not-for-profit consumer cooperative, Weavers Way cannot access venture capital to grow,” said Jon Roesser, general manager of Weavers Way Cooperative Association. “A loan from PIDC allowed us to expand to better meet the needs of our member-owners in Northwest Philadelphia. The expansion created over 70 new jobs and brought new life to a block of Germantown Avenue that had been experiencing decline.”

Jon also said that the interest in food co-ops continues to grow as more people are becoming dissatisfied with an unsustainable food system that is dominated by huge for-profit corporations and damaging to the planet. “In the years ahead, Weavers Way will be looking for ways to meet the new interest in community-based, locally-focused commerce by expanding to new communities in and around Northwest Philadelphia,” said Jon.  Learn more about Weavers Way Cooperative Association at

South Philly Food Co-op

The South Philly Food Co-op is a community of South Philadelphia residents who are working together to open a grocery store that uses food as a force for good.

The Co-op will bring fresh, whole, sustainable and local foods at fair prices to the heart of the neighborhood. More than that, the Co-op will be a hub for community and food-centric education. South Philly Food Co-op has been incorporated as a nonprofit cooperative enterprise since 2011 which is also when it started accepting member-owner equity. In late 2016, they signed their lease at 2031 S. Juniper St. and began their capital campaign for the full costs of building, stocking, and staffing their store in spring 2017.

For South Philly Food Co-op’s capital campaign organizer and board member, Emily Wyner, starting a co-op comes with very particular challenges, but funding from PIDC has helped alleviate these challenges. “Since we’re owned by an ever-growing number of member-owner households (1,133 as of today), we don’t have access to traditional capital that is collateralized with individual business owners’ personal assets,” said Emily.  “We need values-driven lenders like PIDC to bring our project to life! Because of PIDC’s support, we’re able to build out a community asset that will nourish our neighborhood for many years to come.” While the co-op reached their major member-owner goals in order to mobilize construction, they are open to welcoming new member-owners. You can learn more at

Mariposa Food Co-op

Mariposa Food Co-op is a cooperatively-owned grocery store. PIDC helped finance its recent move and expansion to 4824 Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia, which is open to the public.

Mariposa is committed to providing owners and shoppers with healthy, quality products at an affordable price. The products on their shelves are carefully selected based on quality of ingredients, environmental impact, and cost. Their purchasing department makes a concerted effort to carry cooperatively-owned, fairly traded, organic, and locally produced products which include dairy,  meat and seafood, wellness products, baked goods, and more. Learn more about Mariposa Food Co-op at

Kensington Community Food Co-op

Offering healthy and accessible food to the Riverwards area, Kensington Community Food Co-op is a full-scale grocery store with a café and bar —  the first in a Pennsylvania co-op — which recently opened on April 17, 2019.

Anyone can shop and everyone can join. It offers healthy and accessible food to residents. Plus, Kensington Community Food Co-op aims to benefit the community economically by hiring local residents and selling locally made products. According to Kensington Community Food Co-op’s Board President, Kae Anderson, since no one wanted to come in and build a grocery store in their neighborhood, they got together, as neighbors, to fill the need themselves. “We have since created a store that is rooted in-, owned by- and adapts with the community,” Kae said. “A store focused on servicing all of our neighbors with an appropriate product mix, pricing, and programming opportunities —  this is a model of organizing that can be repeated throughout Philly and the greater region.”

Socially it is also a community hub that offers meeting space and events. A article recently reported that members have loaned about $300,000 to KCFC to help get the co-op off the ground, along with additional funders such as the Reinvestment Fund, PIDC, and several family foundations. Learn more about the Kensington Community Food Co-op at

Learn more about PIDC’s available financing for small businesses.