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 March 2013, we have over 1150 owners.
Since those early days, we have worked on several scenarios for a possible location, including plans to build a store on a vacant lot off of Mangum Street, and expanding our initial search area to explore leasing pre-existing buildings in several downtown areas. In March of 2013, we are happy to announce that we have 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 allow us to have 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. We are excited by the possibilities offered by this location, and by our partnership with Self-Help Ventures. The next steps in moving forward will be to complete our financing plan through a number of sources, including community and owners. We believe this is an investment in Durham that yields a triple bottom line. The dividends are economic, ecological, and social. You can help make it happen by becoming an owner, sharing this vision with your neighbors, and by participating in DCM community investment efforts. As a co-op owner of Durham Central Market, your voice and thoughts matter. We invite you to join us!