Green Directory

Friendly City Food Co-op

Friendly City Food Co-op

It all started in 2006, when the Little Grill brought attention to the need for a full-scale, natural and organic grocery store that put a premium on using local farmers and producers. So a small group of community members began meeting together to discuss the possibility. By the end of 2007, efforts to create such a store made significant progress. With the help of a cooperative expert, a lawyer, and a dedicated Founding Team, the plan for the co-op formalized as a real entity.

Come 2008 our membership had grown to 450 as news of the co-op spread in the community through events and word of mouth. We were also awarded two grants to assist us with start-up consultancy, feasibility, and other costs — $5000 from Food Co-op 500 and $7500 from the Resource Conservation and Development program. 2009 was an exciting year as we placed 4th in JMU’s Sustainable Business Plan Competition, secured our first-position loan of $484,600, and announced the site of our future store at 150 East Wolfe Street in Harrisonburg.

By the end of March 2010, we had over 750 members and over half of the $600,000 raised by the Member Loan Campaign. We hired a new outreach coordinator, Suzi Carter, to take over leadership on the improved Member Loan Campaign. Our fundraising was finally completed at the end of May 2010 with over $673,000 in member-loans and over 1,000 owner-members! Because of our positive financial position and large community support, we were awarded a $50,000 loan by the Staunton Creative Community Fund and an additional $5,000 grant by Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. By August, we hired our site architect, engineer, designer, and, most importantly, our general manager, Steve Cooke!

After a stellar renovation (that we would later receive an award for as downtown’s Best Overall Renovation in 2011) and hiring a strong team, we quietly opened our doors on June 6th, 2011. Soon after we had our Grand Opening in July and shared in a proud moment with our 1,200 members who trusted we would open.

Friendly City is now focused on building outside of the store by creating strong relationships with local producers, continuing loan and grant fundraising, community outreach and growing membership one owner at a time.