Volunteers painted a colorful mural to identify the Pogue’s Run Grocer in the East side neighborhood. Photo courtesy Indy Food Co-op.Kyle Hendrix would likely tell you that he had some notion in 2007 of the total effort a neighborhood co-op would take, but that he had no idea it would bring so many diverse people together for the pursuit of a healthy food option. And as Indianapolis’ first food co-op store opens its doors, Kyle believes everyone’s work will pay dividends to the members, the neighborhood and beyond.

To find out more about this unique grocery store, Indiana Living Green spoke with Hendrix, president and chairman of the board of the Indy Food Co-op, about the process, hopes and dreams.

Volunteers painted a colorful mural to identify the Pogue’s Run Grocer in the East side neighborhood. Photo courtesy Indy Food Co-op.

Volunteers painted a colorful mural to identify the Pogue’s Run Grocer in the East side neighborhood. Photo courtesy Indy Food Co-op.

Kyle Hendrix would likely tell you that he had some notion in 2007 of the total effort a neighborhood co-op would take, but that he had no idea it would bring so many diverse people together for the pursuit of a healthy food option. And as Indianapolis’ first food co-op store opens its doors, Kyle believes everyone’s work will pay dividends to the members, the neighborhood and beyond.

To find out more about this unique grocery store, Indiana Living Green spoke with Hendrix, president and chairman of the board of the Indy Food Co-op, about the process, hopes and dreams.

ILG: When do you expect Pogue’s Run Grocer to open?
Hendrix: We are hoping for a late spring/early summer opening. We had a few delays with regards to getting our building permit, but we have taken care of those issues and are proceeding with the store renovation.

ILG: Describe what people will see when they enter the Pogue’s Run Grocer. Will it seem like a supermarket, the corner grocery store, a natural food store, a farmer’s market?
Hendrix: It should look like a combination of the corner grocery/natural foods market. The produce area might be a little more like a farmers market stall.

ILG: What is the mission statement for the Indy Food Co-op?
Hendrix: Our mission is to provide healthy, natural food from as many local sources as possible at the most affordable price possible, while paying living wage to local growers and producers.

ILG: Why a co-op?
Hendrix: We wanted this store to be an integral part of the community. The best model for that is a co-op, as it is owned by its members, allowing for input on the direction the Indy Food Co-op should go. Any profits from sales stay local.

ILG: Is this store really just for the neighborhood? If not, why would someone make the effort to travel past other markets to shop here?
Hendrix: It’s not just for the neighborhood. Outside of farmers markets, Pogue’s Run Grocer will be a central location to get local products seven days a week. I’ll reiterate that a communityowned
store has a direct positive impact on the local economy, as any profits, stay local.

ILG: Then, what is the main area of Indianapolis that you will be serving?
Hendrix: We are focusing on the downtown and near east side, but we would like to be a regional draw as well. We do have members from as far away as Carmel and Greensburg, so I think we can achieve that goal.

ILG: If two other major supermarkets pulled out of the area, why do you think Pogue’s Run will thrive?
Hendrix: I believe people will see this as a community asset and, literally and figuratively, put their money where their mouth is. I mean, here is an opportunity to truly lead a better life by accessing healthier foods and supporting local people, companies and endeavors to sustain the local economy.

ILG: Where has the significant funding come from, and how important are memberships?
Hendrix: Our vision for Pogue’s Run would not have been possible if it were not for organizations and people like the Chase Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, East 10th Street Civic Association, the John H. Boner Community Center, Community Health Networks, the Central Indiana Community Foundation, Codo Design, One Ten Studio, Architects for Humanity, Pam Frazier and Martha Hoover. These partners are invaluable to helping us complete our mission, but it is only half of the equation. The other half is our members. Being a member not only helps to ensure our success, it is an opportunity for people to be directly involved in how we as a community access healthy food that translates into better quality of life.

ILG: What else do you want people to know about the co-op?
Hendrix: I want them to know that we are not just a natural foods grocery store. We are an advocate for better health. Once up and running, we begin cooking and nutrition classes. There will be volunteer opportunities at the co-op and in the neighborhood. One of our long-range goals is to be involved with the urban farming movement and provide resources to neighborhoods for community garden development. As you can see, we want to be an integral part of the community.

Indiana Living Green also spoke with Greg Monzel, the general manager of Pogue’s Run Grocer, for more specific answers to the shopping experience.

ILG: Must I be a member to shop?
Monzel: Membership is not required; anyone may shop at Pogue’s Run Grocer. This is consistent with other retail food co-ops.

ILG: What’s the advantage to joining?
Monzel: There are some financial advantages to membership. Members will receive discounts on case purchases, sales items and participate in discount days. Membership also entitles voting rights in
organizational direction, the right to run for election to the board of directors, and working volunteer opportunities to have hands-on experience exploring where our food comes from. Furthermore,
membership is an investment in a common community asset, capital center, community gathering place, sustainable health and food advocate and local economy center.

ILG: What does it cost?
Monzel: Membership fees include a $125 one-time common capital contribution as well as a $25 annual administration fee per shopper in the household. Thus, for a one-shopper household, the initial membership is $150; for three shoppers, it amounts to $200. Some scholarships have been funded through our partners, and we are working on details to extend these memberships to those in the community who cannot otherwise afford them.

ILG: What foods will you stock?
Monzel: At Pogue’s Run Grocer, shoppers may purchase all of their basic needs and staple foods, as well as value-added products and farm-fresh local produce. We will also carry a full dairy department, a wide selection of bulk foods, frozen goods, body care products and supplements, environmentally friendly cleansers and household products, locally roasted brewed coffee, breakfast pastries and more. The coop will also have a small deli open all day for fresh sandwiches, soups and
salads. As Kyle stated, the feel will be somewhere between corner market and natural food store, with a local, urban ambience.

ILG: What else do you want people to know?
Monzel: Pogue’s Run Grocer will be a center for people to come together around food. We will hold events and community gatherings to work toward solutions for our imperiled food system. The Indy Food Co-op exists for the benefit of all Hoosiers to anchor the local food network here in Indiana and help drive local product development. The store will be a safe and inviting place to all who are passionate for sustainability in food. story_ender

{xtypo_rounded2}Indy isn’t the only city buzzing with co-op excitement this summer. In June, Bloomingfoods will host the Consumer Cooperative Management Association’s annual conference in Bloomington with a theme, “Love What We Do and Do What We Love.” The meeting is a gathering for food co-op staff and board members, as well as people from other cooperative organizations.

The conference will showcase the three Bloomingfoods co-op stores, which have had upgrades and redesigns, including an expanded garden center at the East store and a covered patio at the Near West Side store.

“It is an exception and an honor for Bloomington to have been chosen as host this year,” said Ellen Michel, marketing manager for Bloomingfoods. Previous host cities have been Pittsburgh, Portland, Chicago and Boston.

As many as 400 attendees will tour area quarries, the historic West Baden Hotel, the Lost River Community Co-op in Paoli, local farms and community gardens. They’ll also visit attractions on the Indiana University campus — Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction; Lilly Library; Art Museum; and Kirkwood Observatory.{/xtypo_rounded2}

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