Grifton Community Supermarket gauges interest in co-op
By Amber Revels-Stocks
Thursday, August 22, 2019
GRIFTON — Grifton residents now have food for thought.
More than 20 community members gathered at the old Tropicana supermarket in Grifton on Saturday to hear a proposal on opening a cooperative grocery store — the Grifton Community Supermarket.
Danny Peed and CD Gay introduced those at the meeting to the concept of a co-op store. Essentially, the members of the supermarket own the store, they said. In most co-ops, the members decide what foods and products are stocked on the shelves, where those items are purchased and what quality standards both products and vendors have to meet.
“We are not a traditional co-op,” Peed said. “A traditional co-op is for vegan and organic food. You go to a traditional co-op and you might get a pack of pork chops that only contains four pork chops. I don’t know about you, but I can’t feed my family with four pork chops.”
The pair hopes Grifton Community Supermarket will operate as a whole-home store.
“We want to have what you want, including brooms or shoes,” Peed said. “We may only have two types of peanut butter when there are eight types on the market; we may only have two jellies when there are four on the market. But we’ll have what you want.”
He showed the crowd a box of fried green tomato batter and a box of tamarind candy before asking if they knew what to do with either product.
“I don’t know either,” he said. “We don’t want to waste shelf space with stuff that you don’t know how to use.”
The Grifton Community Membership program offers memberships for a one-time fee of $100. Members receive 5 percent back on all purchases at the end of the year and will receive quarterly and yearly financial statements. This means if a member spends $100 over the course of a year, he or she will receive $5 at the end of the year.
Members also will receive first notice of all sales and promotions via text or email, according to the membership packet.
“We’re not going to put ads in the newspaper,” Peed said. “We’re going to send our ads to our members through email. If you’re not a member, the only way you know what sales are going on are if you come in this store and grab an ad.”
Non-members also will be allowed to shop at the store, he said.
Grifton Community Supermarket also plans to offer a charity program. Churches or nonprofits can register with the supermarket to receive cards. The cards will have the organization’s name on them. When a card holder uses the card at check out, the organization will receive 5 percent of that person’s purchase. The payout will be given quarterly to the organization.
“Church members do not have to be store members for the church to receive 5 percent,” Gay said. “It’s our way of giving back to the community.”
The Grifton Community Supermarket wants to offer a volunteer participation program as well, according to its membership booklet.
“Shareholders can volunteer their service and earn bonus points that can be easily used towards food purchases, utility bills, mortgage/rent payments, phone bills, insurance and or child support,” the book reads. “Volunteers can learn valuable job and life skills. Volunteers will have first preference — be notified prior to the public — when internal full/part-time positions open.”
Two previous grocery stores located at the Tropicana site — 6927 S. Highland Blvd. — failed as a result of flooding. However, Peed and Gay have a hurricane emergency program.
“Members will be invited to shop prior to the weather, and you won’t be asked to pay at that time,” Peed said. “I don’t care if you buy $200 worth of food. It’ll be invoiced and a six-month payment plan will be set up. My product will be in your homes instead of on my shelves, so it won’t be a loss.
"… Piggly Wiggly was making a profit here, but they had to file so many insurance claims that the company threatened to cancel the insurance all together," he said. "Tropicana had a $80,000 loss.”
The pair plans to open after hurricane season, probably in December, if all goes according to plan.
Despite coming into the meeting with doubts, Peggy Collins left with a positive impression.
“Grifton is a great community and this is something we need. I feel good about this,” she said.
Marie Bates also left feeling optimistic.
“Five percent is more than I get back at the grocery store. They don’t give me anything,” she said during the meeting.
Shawn Jarvis did not know what a co-op was when she first heard about the meeting, but was glad to learn more.
“I’m trying to help spread the word about this,” she said. “When I posted it on Facebook, most of my friends didn’t know what I was talking about. You have to have people interested in this to make it work.”
For more information, search “Grifton Community Supermarket” on Facebook.