Hub City Co-Op
When Edible asked me to interview Hub City Co-Op’s Marketing Director Keysie Maddox and General Manager Garland McQueen about their spring 2016 grand opening, I thought it was about time Greenville got a customer-owned grocery like Asheville’s French Broad Food Co-Op. Turns out my knowledge of Spartanburg trivia was deficient of its nickname “Hub City,” due to all the important train routes that once crossed there. “You’re just used to Greenville getting everything first,” Keysie told me. True, though if you time traveled to tell me that in the early 1990s, I’d have thought it was crazier than time travel.
Spartanburg is getting a cure for their downtown food desert faster than Greenville, but Hub City Co-Op will be worth the jaunt for everyone in the upstate area. It’s exactly the sort of business—innovative, eclectic, and useful—that is rejuvenating downtowns in the south. The co-op will offer natural & organic food, supplements, household goods, and other items you would expect to see in a standard grocery store. What sets it apart is the downtown access, a café with craft beer and wine, an emphasis on local products whenever possible, and the 1,395 (and growing) customers who own it.
Shares in the co-op are available to anyone over the age of 18 and cost a once only fee of $150. This buys the individual a life time membership, votes on major decisions regarding the market, and an end of year dividend when the co-op has a profitable season. How often does a store pay you back for shopping there? Owning a share is completely unnecessary to shop at the market. This isn’t Costco. If anything, it’s the opposite of a big box food conglomerate. Garland says that remedying the lack of locally-driven business was a major impetus in bringing the coop to the area.
“The chain stores put the little guys out of business, create food deserts, and eliminate most of the local food. We want to increase options for farmers to market their goods and listen to what the customers really want to buy,” Garland said.
Even the co-op’s building was chosen with an eye to rejuvenate quality connections to the town. “It has iconic architecture with a fantastic curved, arched roof... formerly a Volkswagen dealership that has been empty for 40 years,” Keysie said.
The grand opening is on schedule for the second week in April 2016. Details on the exact date will be posted on the co-op website, listed below.
Hub City Co-Op
176 North Liberty Street