5 things to know about northwest Dayton grocery co-op

A conceptual rendering for the Gem City Market by architect Matt Sauer. CONTRIBUTED

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A conceptual rendering for the Gem City Market by architect Matt Sauer. CONTRIBUTED

The Greater Dayton Union Co-op, a local nonprofit, is developing a full-scale grocery store in northwest Dayton, across the river from downtown.

Details about the Gem City Market were recently shared at a community meeting. Here’s some important things to know about the new market.

1. Location and size. Gem City Market is expected to be about 15,000 square feet and will be situated on the 100 block of Salem Ave. The property is owned by Omega Baptist Church, which is partnering on the initiative with the union co-op. Omega has owned land along lower Salem Avenue for about 17 years and wanted to find uses for it that provides a community benefit, officials said.

2. Business model. The market will be a food cooperative that is owned by customers, store workers and other interested community members. The project is expected to cost about $3.9 million. Organizers hope to sell about 2,000 shares of the enterprise before the market opens. Shares will cost $100 and will go on sale in coming weeks.

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3. Selection. The market will have 70 percent conventional grocery items and 30 percent organic and specialty products. The market will sell beer and wine, which organizers say are necessary items to make the venture financially feasible. The store will have affordable "kitchen staples" as well as fresh produce, meats, coffee, dairy and other items.

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4. Customer base. Organizers estimate that about 22,000 residents (potential customers) live in the market area, which does not include downtown. They spend about $750,000 on groceries every week, according to recent research. Downtown also has about 33,000 workers who also may shop at the market, and it also may draw downtown residents. Downtown is home to more than 1,300 market-rate housing units. A survey found that two-thirds of respondents who live in northwest Dayton want to travel less than two miles to shop for groceries, but only one-quarter currently have that opportunity.

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5. What's next. The union co-op will be holding events later this year where they sell shares. Subsidized shares should be available for low-income residents. The food co-op plans to seek financial support from philanthropic groups and possibly local jurisdictions. The market also plans to seek vendors to supply local products.

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