When developers came to the Old North Durham Neighborhood Association (ONDNA) potluck in February 2007 and told them about their future buildings and businesses, the question asked was "Can we have a grocery store?" The answer was, "Sure... if you want one.... and you do the footwork." A group from OND formed with other interested people to see about just that: could we have a natural foods store/market/meeting place in our area? After conducting a feasibility study, the answer is yes, given the current and future residences and businesses in OND, Durham Central Park, downtown, and nearby neighborhoods.
The grocery group then approached the Durham Food Coop (on Chapel Hill Street) with the question of taking up this project. It just so happened that, at the same time, the DFC was undergoing a discussion about the future of that organization, with the subject of relocating frequently surfacing. At that time the DFC board decided that the organization needed to focus on its current operations and would stay in its current location, but encouraged interested members to talk to the other neighborhoods to see what was out there. Thus, some members from DFC joined those from OND, and a new group was formed. In a spirit of cooperation our group moved forward to form its own vision: a cooperative for-profit business, based on the Weaver Street and Chatham Marketplace models. We gave it the name of Durham Central Market (DCM).
The next step was to create bylaws which form the business's foundation. With bylaws in hand now we were fully incorporated, and kicked off our founding owner share drive at the Festival for the Eno 2008. Although anyone will be able to shop at the market, owner shares are a good faith investment in the community business and may provide additional benefits. As of July 2014, we have over 1350 owners.
In March of 2013, we signed a letter of intent with Self-Help Ventures to occupy a space in an office building complex being developed at the corner of Kent and West Chapel Hill Street. The location will provide a 10,000 square foot store with ample parking and green space, in an area that will be convenient to downtown Durham, Duke University, and nearby to neighborhoods such as West End, Burch Avenue, Lakewood, Morehead Hills, Duke Forest and Forest Hills.
In June, 2014, we changed the name of the co-op to Durham Co-op Market to emphasize our cooperative structure.
Construction began in early 2014, and the store will open in January, 2015. We have incorporated many sustainable building practices into the building, including solar tubes, LED lighting, and energy efficient refrigeration equipement to reduce our electricity use. In the store we will offer a full range of local, natural, and organic groceries and prepared foods including fresh produce, pasture-raised meats, hot lunch and dinner, natural health, wellness, and beauty aids, and fresh baked breads and pastries.
This community owned and organized business could not have come together without the support, creativity, and dedication of so many proud Durhamites. The co-op will be open to all shoppers, and ownership is open to all North Carolina residents. If you have not already, please consider becoming an owner. Click here to find out more.