Though many variables exist, one aspect seems clear with the potential Manayunk-Roxborough Food Co-op—Weavers Way most likely won't be directly involved.
David Schiman, local acupuncturist and chair for the growing co-op's steering committee, said aspects like location and membership structure are up in the air. However, Weavers Way's current financial obligations will preclude the Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill organization from opening an affiliated store west of the Wissahickon.
"Right now, Weaves Way can't take action, and we're not interested in waiting for them. They are involved in helping us as an adviser... and down the road, we can always revisit the idea of joining the groups together," he said.
Since preliminary talks and a large-scale public meeting in April, David Woo, from Weavers Way, has been involved in nearly all the steering committee's meetings, Schiman said. A lack of financial connection won't stop the local co-op from emulating its cross-creek predecessor.
"When we advertised that we could bring a Weavers Way to the neighborhood, a lot of people showed up. Clearly they are interested in what Weavers Way does. So we can be like Weavers Way, without being affiliated," Schiman said.
Schiman has led meetings with the 10 to 15 volunteers who have worked to shape the future of the potential co-op. He said the majority of work thus far has been organization, which will be followed by planning/feasibility, and, later, implementation.
Volunteers have analyzed different legal options, co-op principles and financial options.
"There was a lot more out there than we anticipated... We had to hammer out some logistical things, and now we can see where we are when it comes to different visions," he said.
The next big landmark, Schiman said, is laying out a timeline at the July 31 meeting. From there, the co-op can create a conceptual road map and share decisions with the public.
"We had to pull back before, but now we're ready for some concrete action," he said.
Future Plans and Location?
The steering committee will project an opening date, which will be based on benchmarks involving financing, membership, employees and real estate. Schiman estimated an opening date in one-and-a-half years—but that is a loose estimate that may shift.
After commissioning a market study that should identify potential suburban interest and how big the store should be, the co-op can talk location.
"It's all up in the air. We'll look at real estate on Main Street. We'll see if there's substantial interest from people across the river. But it could be cheaper and make more sense in Roxborough. There's a lot to flesh out still," he said.
Eventually, the group will also host a fundraiser to pay initial corporation registration costs and other legal fees.
Above all else, Schiman said the co-op should be a reflection of what its members what. He said there will be a large-scale September meeting to share with the community the committee's progress thus far.
If people are interested in becoming involved, visit the group's Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.