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Weavers Way Co-op To Open in Germantown

When Weavers Way Co-op opens in Germantown this spring it will be bringing locally grown, organic produce, meats, and wellness products to a community that has been literally starved for a healthy alternative. Almost 30% of Germantown residents are food insufficient, while the remainder have to drive five miles for the closest Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

In many ways, Germantown is a microcosm of Philadelphia. Starting in the 17th century as a rural German, Mennonite, and Quaker enclave, it was the birthplace of the anti-slavery movement and Underground Railroad. During the 19th century, Germantown was the summer home of affluent industrialists, including department store owner Julius C. Strawbridge who built a mansion on a 30-acre estate at the foot of Chelten Avenue. in 1885. In the early 20th century, when the railroad came to Northwest Philadelphia, the Historic Tulpehocken District was the City’s first planned suburb. Meanwhile, waves of migration from the South changed the community’s demographics in the mid and late-20th century. Regardless of these changes, the Quaker community held firm, welcoming integration and continuing to worship at Germantown Friends Meeting and sending their children to Green Street Friends School.

While roughly 33% percent of residents live below the poverty line, many live well above it, including those who reside in the mansions of the Tuplehocken Station Historic District or in upscale East Falls, which includes Alden Park Manor, a collection of luxury hi-rises on a 38-acre campus just two blocks from the co-op. 

“I am excited about the new store. I usually shop at the Mt. Airy location,” said Karen Singer, artistic director and owner of Karen Singer Tileworks in Germantown. Singer is just one of the over 1,300 Weavers Way members who live in Germantown and have been waiting for the Co-op to come to their neighborhood. But what about the majority of Germantown residents who have never experienced an organic food co-op before?

 Weavers Way Germantown Planning & Outreach Coordinator, Camille Poinvil, and James Mitchell, Weavers Way Germantown Manager, have been spreading the word for two years, knocking on doors, handing out coupons, and dispelling misunderstandings. “We explain that the Co-op is not for members only. Anyone can shop there, but being a member has many advantages, including discounts and a say in how the store operates,” said Poinvil. Their efforts have paid off. People like what they hear. The new Weavers Way will feature products made in Germantown, including Salam Cafe’s Ethiopian Bread, Ultimo Coffee, and Merzbacher’s Bread. It will also offer products found in all Weavers Way Co-ops, such as Metropolitan and Le Bus breads and pastries, Esposito’s Meats, and Bell & Evans Chicken, plus made-to-order sandwiches from their Deli Dept. and entrees-to-go. 

“We work with over 300 local vendors. Part of Weavers Way’s mission is to have a positive impact on the local economy and for that reason, we work hard to fill the stores with items made close to home all year long. Supporting small businesses in our area is a cooperative value that we take seriously,” said Purchasing Manager Norman Weiss.

“We understand that not everyone is familiar with the brands we carry, so at the Germantown location, we are working with a conventional distributor as well,” said Mitchell. That means you’ll find Jiffy on the shelf next to an organic brand. “We are also a WIC-certified store, a federal program that offers free nutritional foods to pregnant women and mothers of infants.” That includes Earth’s Best Baby Foods which was rated among the top three baby foods by Forbes in 2024.  

For low-income members, the Co-op accepts EBT and offers a variety of discounts, including their 15% Food For All discount which is funded by their Round Up program in which economically stable members round up their grocery bill to the next dollar. While memberships involve an annual equity investment of $30 per year, low-income members pay $5. When a member leaves the Co-op, they receive a full refund of their equity payments. However, membership is not for everyone. Some may not partake in membership until they have experienced the Co-op for a while and grown comfortable with its benefits and sense of community.

“We offer a breath of fresh air,” said Mitchell, who previously worked at both the Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy locations. “The Germantown store is 6,000 sq. ft. which is larger than the Chestnut Hill location. We have a little more retail space with three aisles dedicated to Wellness. Plus more freezer and refrigerator space and a different vibe.” 

If you’ve ever dropped into Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books on Germantown Ave., you know what that vibe feels like. Warm, friendly, easy-does-it. To ensure

that welcoming feeling, Mitchell has hired a local team and, judging from the community response, he may have to hire more. 

Since starting in the basement of a Mt. Airy Church in 1972, Weavers Way has grown into a collection of member-owned, organic markets focusing on healthy, sustainable food and fair food practices. With shops located in Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill and Ambler, the Co-op now represents more than 10,000 households and 20,000 members. 

While other Philadelphia food coops sell locally grown produce, Weavers Way is unique in that they maintain two working farms, one at Awbury Arboretum and the other at the Saul Agricultural High School in Roxborough. The farms have five full-time farms during the growing season and provide learning opportunities for students and coop members, as well as fresh, environmentally responsible food. Think about it. When was the last time you had an opportunity to cook with organic veggies grown within the City limit?

Re: Vision Architects in Manayunk, a local firm with national reach, specializing in sustainability, was selected to re-purpose a 1950s Acme at the corner of Chelten & Morris into Weavers Way’s Germantown store. “We care about embodied carbon and do everything we can to create net zero buildings,” said Scott Kelly, founding principle of the company. “We don’t waste. We re-purpose.” Among their re-purposing at the former Acme are the store’s original floors, freight elevator, and exterior walls. Re: Vision’s local projects include JLL Philadelphia Headquarters, Center City’s first LEED Platinum Project, and a Fishtown Passive House

For more information visit: Weavers Way Coop.

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