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The Grocery Co-op That Keeps Growing

Shannon Jones

Shannon Jones has been selling real estate since 1998 and specializes in listing and marketing homes...

Shannon Jones has been selling real estate since 1998 and specializes in listing and marketing homes...

Jan 16 4 minutes read

Photo Credit: Long Beach Grocery Coop

As a Long Beach resident, you may have heard of the Long Beach Grocery Co-op (LBGC). The Long Beach Grocery Co-op was started several years ago by Damon Lawrence and is the first of its kind within our city. What started out as an idea from a trip to Oregon has grown into something bigger within the community. So big in fact, that they are now looking for a permanent location.

What Exactly Is  A Co-op?

A co-op is a business where the employees and the community members hold shares in the business. Community members can buy ownership of the business, and therefore can have a say (vote) on matters such as everyday operations and what excess revenue can be spent on. In some cases, there are even financial benefits to being a member/owner. Though it may seem like it, co-ops are not a new idea. Our closest coop, Co-Opportunity in Santa Monica has been around for 40 years. Well-known companies like The Associated Press and Ace Hardware are co-ops as well.

Strong Community Connection

As a co-op, the Long Beach Grocery Co-op has a strong connection to the surrounding community. It is a consumer coop; meaning it is voluntarily owned and controlled by the people who use it. LBGC is dedicated to providing affordable, high quality, wholesome food, and products to the community to promote healthy living. But it’s not just about the customers. The Long Beach Grocery Co-op is also committed to supporting local agriculture and fair trade, as well as educating our community on the benefits of healthy eating and using sustainable practices. Education and gatherings at monthly events like “Hangout Sessions” and “Veggie Swaps” have been continually growing in popularity. The co-op creates a ripple effect of healthy lifestyles and local support in all areas of the business.

Photo Credit: Long Beach Grocery Coop

Co-op Continues To Grow

In the few years that the Long Beach Grocery Co-op has been around, their numbers increased dramatically. There are currently over 300 member/owners, and the new goal has been set to 500. With the rapid growth, there is now more concentration on finding a permanent location. Lawrence believes that though it may still be a while before a permanent store opens, having a physical building to point to will help spark people’s interests and attract even more member/owners to join.

One possible location could be in North Long Beach, where there has been a big push in the availability of healthy and sustainable foods. However, the search is still on. Aside from finding an economically viable location, the Co-op wants to provide access to fresh, healthy, ethically produced food to all communities in Long Beach. The location has to fit just right.

Even though there is no physical store to shop in just yet, members who join the Co-op will have a say during this location-search. After the store opens, the cost of each share becomes refundable. And during profitable years, member/owners will receive a dividend on their investment. It costs $250 to become a member/owner of LBGC.

Working Together

Co-ops are founded on the idea that a community can achieve greater results when working together, than by working alone. Based on this thought, it is no wonder that the LBGC has already created such a positive effect within Long Beach. It won’t be long before we see Long Beach’s first co-op officially open its doors.

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