Planned Windsor Terrace Food Co-Op would siphon helping hands from its Prospect Park-side neighbor

Cooperating cooperatives: Park Slope Food Co-Op lends members to Terrace

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Park Slope Food Co-op knows it could lose business to a fledgling do-good food store in Windsor Terrace, and it does not care.

The famed Union Street co-op has been giving Windsor Terrace organizers advice on how to form their own members-only grocery despite the fact that hundreds of the up-and-coming store’s would-be worker-owners currently belong to the longtime kale haven.

“We feel that we could possibly lose members, but it is a good thing to have co-ops in neighborho­ods,” said Amy Herpel, general coordinator at the Park Slope Food Co-op.

The idea for the Windsor Terrace Food Co-op took root after the beloved Key Foods on Prospect Avenue closed two summers ago, sparking rallies and petitions by locals who lamented the disappearance of the neighborhood’s only grocery store. Slope cooperators encouraged the venture, which has buy-in from 300 to 350 people, according to a Windsor Terrace organizer.

“Our relationship with Park Slope is the centerpiece of what could be problematic or what could be successful,” said Windsor Terrace food activist Jack O’Connell. “At one point in the very beginning I did think of this as competitive, but my thinking has evolved.”

Herpel and other Park Slope members initially advised O’Connell and his team to wrangle up community support and win firm commitments from would-be members and eventually agreed to help with drafts of Windsor Terrace’s by-laws, which would make the new venture a fully-fledged corporation with a board of directors.

Windsor Terrace also hopes to broker a deal with Park Slope that would allow members of the 41-year-old co-op, who have to work one two-hour, 45-minute shift every month, to have their time spent pitching in at the new market counted. Park Slope’s world-famous green grocer has more than 16,000 members, and at least a few of them could defect to a more intimate store, O’Connell said.

“You have people that feel the tasks they do on a monthly basis [at Park Slope] are meaningless, or not the greatest experiences in the world,” O’Connell said. “It is so crowded that they do not look at it as being a wonderful co-op experience.”

But the hunt for a two-story space has not been easy. The team was pursuing a building on Greenwood Avenue near Prospect Avenue — the former home of Blondie’s Deli — but rent was astronomical, O’Connell said. Windsor Terrace is not exactly flush with commercial space, either, he said.

“The neighborhood is changing, and the dollar signs going up,” O’Connell said.

The Windsor Terrace Food Co-op would charge between $125 and $200 to join, plus a $25 membership fee, much like its Park Slope counterpart, but the next six months will probably decide whether the project will even make it to that point. The grocery needs buy-in from about 400 comrades to open, according to O’Connell.

“It has to be a moment of do or die at some point,” he said. “If we do not get X number of members, we will have to say this just did not work.”

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

omg from this says:
would be awesome!!!
Jan. 23, 2014, 9:01 am
btw from PS says:
When did the PSFC have an annual membership? It's $100 investment, which you get back when you leave, and a one time $25 membership fee. There is no annual fee.
Jan. 23, 2014, 10:40 am
Dude from Row House says:
Um didn't the Brooklyn Paper already write this one, a year hence?
Jan. 23, 2014, 12:22 pm
The Chooch from the Bohemian Magic Show says:
And there's the food coop in Bushwick as well. In time these food coops will be putting the squeeze on a lot of old time mook grocery stores in Brooklyn.
Boo hoo. And ... Shazzam !!!
Jan. 23, 2014, 12:24 pm
Jamie from flatbush says:
umm, diehipster - Park Slope Food Coop has been around since 1973. It may be many things, but I don't think that trendy is one of them.
Jan. 23, 2014, 1:43 pm
Person from Park Slope says:
We should forgive Diehipster for being frightened and confused by all of the changes that have taken place in the last few decades. He's never fully recovered from that traumatic moment as a kid when he found out that it wasn't possible for him to play stickball in the street for a living. Ever since then, he's been sitting around in his tracksuit just frozen in time, angry and bitter towards the rest of the world for moving on without him.
Jan. 23, 2014, 2:20 pm
thats the fact jack from WT says:
meanwhile the former neighborhood of the protests got a little key foods - plus a new expanded one on PPW that expanded into the old Hallmark store (it ain't too shabby either). Add that to the fresh vegetable store across from Farrell's, combine with the fact that so many WT residents are either far too old or on disability that critical mass will be difficult.

The asking rents are very high, and now that dunkin donuts is on PPW the landlords will probably be holding out for a chase or citibank.

Even down in midwood on Cortelyou an undeveloped story "garage" went for $2 mil cash. Freshdirect is going to have the cost advantage soon!
Jan. 23, 2014, 2:28 pm

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