community stores

Brent Finnegan -- January 17th, 2007

David posted here about Midtowne Market in November. They didn’t quite make their Dec 1st deadline, but it’s open for business now. The DNR ran a piece featuring the store yesterday (with a photo featuring a few familiar faces). Here’s their webpage/menu.

Also featured is the FC2 food co-op. They’re still in the early development stages of opening a grocery store (still need startup capital and a location) but I like the sound of that business model. Their goal is to sustain “a consumer-owned, democratically-run cooperative that will operate a retail grocery store that emphasizes healthy foods, quality goods, and local products at the best possible prices.”

You may recall when the Little Grill Collective opened a worker-owned grocery store in the Rose’s shopping center in September 2005. The Little Store Collective lasted only a few months before it was closed in February of last year. The FC2 co-op sounds a little different, in that it’s supposed to be “consumer-owned.” I hope they have better luck than the folks at the LGC. Sounds interesting.


31 Responses to “community stores”

  1. writergirl says:

    I was just in the Midtowne Market a few minutes ago. The man working was incredibly friendly and explained the plans for the store to us. It is not completely stocked but what it does have is priced comparably to other convenience stores. He had sandwiches and pasta salads prepared by Downtown 56 and the special was a sandwich, salad and bottled drink for $6 which I thought was very reasonable. He said that they planned to offer milk and eggs from a farmer that comes to the farmer’s market in the spring. They sell tobacco products and he said that their ABC license should be coming through in a little while. He also had a list for suggestions as to what they should offer. Looks like it is going to be a great little store.

    I was in the Little Grill store once and while I liked it, I think that they had a bad location and needed more variety. A mix of convenience type items and organic things may have served them better although I know that wasn’t really what they were going for. I’m looking forward to the co-op!

  2. Del Marvel says:

    It’s nice to see that building renovated. Anybody remember when that was the Sanitary Lunch?

  3. finnegan says:

    Which building? The old Town & Campus Records building?

    I think Sanitary Lunch was before my time.

  4. finnegan says:

    I just stopped by there to grab late lunch/early dinner. The six buck combo is definitely my thing. I’m eating a DT56 veggie wrap right now, and I don’t see/taste any cheese, so it might even be vegan.

  5. Del Marvel says:

    Yeah, the Town and Campus building. Town and Campus was actually in that building two different times and in between was in the Box Factory on the corner of Water and Liberty which was a cool old building that was being renovated for shops and retail. Back before anybody in the city government cared about downtown revitalization, that was condemned and is now a parking lot for the jail. There were all kinds of businesses on both sides of the street that were torn down for the judicial complex, one of which was a nightclub that used to be the Other Place and then the Mystic Den. I can’t remember how far back the new Midtowne Market was the Sanitary Lunch, but I know for many years old timer’s would occassionally wander in asking for food. All right…old timer’s rant off.

  6. finnegan says:

    I love old timer’s rants. Even though I’ve lived around here off-and-on since I was 9, there are a lot of things I don’t know about the history of H’burg.

    I work with a guy who used to be a projectionist at the State Theater (roughly where the library is now). I like hearing him talk about what downtown used to be like.

    Sounds like the 70s and 80s were the dark ages for downtown.

  7. Del Marvel says:

    Check out this article if you haven’t seen it before:

    Downtown was pretty happening in the late seventies, early eighties, maybe more so than now. There was a movie theater, two big grocery stores, Woolworths, drugstores, before Reagan the drinking age was 18 and there were a lot of bars for bands to play–I’m pretty sure the Elbow Room was still going in the late seventies booking national acts.

  8. zen says:

    Finally open! I didn’t make it today. But will probably grab one of those great sounding lunches tomorrow. I know winter decided to kick in this week, but with all of the options popping up within walking distance, I can’t wait till spring! Dig it!

    Is the meet up…er what’s it called? tomorrow at the library?

  9. danno says:

    Yes! Be a patron at this store! The veggie wrap that I was in the middle of buying on Monday when the DNR took my picture and plastered it all over town yesterday, was the best $6 I’ve spent since I got a widescreen DVD copy of Point Break from Walmart. I am looking forward to watching this store become an integral part of Harrisonburg’s downtown community over the next few years.

  10. finnegan says:

    I’m proud to say I’ve successfully stayed away from Wal Mart for almost a year now.

  11. zen says:

    As of Jan 1, it’s been a solid two years for me.
    Supporting local community merchants seems what this post is all about. It’s such a disappointment to read a seeming endorsement of WM.
    Living in Staunton my choices are limited. But I’ve either gone without, had to drive farther, or maybe pay a bit more for items, but at least I have the satisfaction that I’m actually living by my principles….priceless.

  12. danno says:

    Maybe I should clarify that I don’t endorse Walmart. I can actually count the number of times I’ve been there in the past year on one hand, so I guess I’m not as much of a purist as some of you. I mentioned it simply because it’s where I got a dvd two years ago.

  13. zen says:

    danno, sorry mate, I didn’t intend any of my ire to be directed at you personally.

  14. danno says:

    Hah, don’t worry about it. We’ll probably see each other around at Midtowne Market whether we know it or not.

  15. finnegan says:

    Yeah, I know danno. He’s good people. The kind of guy who supports locally-owned businesses like the LGC, the Dodger, and Midtowne Market.

  16. zen says:

    Just had my lunch from the Midtowne Market. It was superb. I must say that I enjoyed everything about the idea of the shop. However, my co-worker, and actually myself somewhat, was a bit put off by the…hmmm…how shall I say…strong natural fragrance in the air. I approach this topic carefully as I consider it likely sensitive.
    I’m all about the natural, earthy lifestyle, but I may not be the average Joe. I have to imagine that this issue could have some business implications.
    Like I said “I imagine,” but I’d be willing to guess that some people could lose their desire (appetite) to dine out of a place with that…problem(?).
    Please know that I am making no judgement other than what it could mean for the success of a business I enjoy having around. Admittedly, the success of the business may not really be of my concern, and I too have the choice not to shop there. But as I said, I like it, so consider it constructive criticism.

  17. finnegan says:

    Hmm. I don’t know. I didn’t notice anything when I went yesterday. Could be a recent development?

    I will say that I’ve always found the smell of Whole Foods grocery stores to be odd.

  18. zen says:

    It wasn’t the food, or the structure, it was a body.

  19. Del Marvel says:

    Well (speaking as a business person) if you think you might enjoy having the business around but there is a concern that could keep you from patronizing the place, by all means communicate it to the owners, even if it’s just an anonymous note or letter. Like many new businesses that place is hardly a slam dunk. Unpleasant as it may be to hear, I’m sure they want to know as soon as they can about every possible detail they can control , especially if it’s turning off customers.

  20. writergirl says:

    I did not notice that either so perhaps it’s isolated to that particular body. I’d say that Del Marvel’s suggestion is a good one. Perhaps mention it or send a letter voicing the concern. I do think that could hurt them in the long run.

  21. writergirl says:

    On another note, I notice that the shoe shine parlor is open in the old school board building. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone mention this on here yet. I did not get to talk to the man working there as I was actually in the building for work, but I’ll be in that building a good bit in the near future and hope to stop in and get the scoop. I did notice several pairs of nicely shined shoes on the rack so it looks like he already has some drop off customers.

  22. David says:

    The shoe shine parlor is run by Jerry Hall, he has recently moved out of Lou’s Barbershop into his new location. He does great work!

  23. Frank J Witt says:

    I must thank Christa and Bruce Gitchell for restoring an old photo I had found 3 weeks ago. Apparently at one time I was an innocent looking 7 year old graduating from First Holy Communion class at Transfiguration Church (part of the Scranton Diocese). The picture is in less than “good” condition but they have restored copies to better than great shape. I will post a scanned version over at my blog as soon as I scan.

    Thanks again Christa and Bruce.

    Please remember them if you need some restoration work done, on top of the already great photo shoots they do!

  24. Frank, you are wonderful. Thank you! But my last name is Gitchell and my husband’s is Krall. I’ll have to show him this post and see what a laugh he gets!

  25. Frank J Witt says:

    Oh GREAT!

    …I read here before that the business was your dad’s and you have taken it and are doing a great job, somewhere though, I lost the last name translation. I better go change my blog as well.

    Thanks again…no matter what alias you use !

  26. No sweat, Bruce just laughed. He takes it well. lol I lost your website somehow. What is it?

  27. Frank J Witt says:

    I just toady remembered where I put the old photo, so they won’t be up ’til Thanksgiving Day.

  28. Hey, the pics are uploaded. Click to enlarge.

    Happy Thanksgiving to ALL !

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