by Meredith Bernstein
This year’s Amazon Prime Day was the most successful one to date, but the workers at neighborhood co-ops think there’s still hope for local shopping. Prime Day fell on the second week of July, from July 15 to 16, and generated over 175 million items sold. The day’s special deals makes it a holiday for all, with the exception of co-ops and small mom and pop shops.
Mayor Jim Kenney responded to this year’s Prime Day with a call to support Philadelphia’s coops. Kenney declared that Oct. 19 will be the first Philadelphia Grocery Co-op Day. At 10 a.m., five major co-ops will gather in City Hall’s Mayor’s Reception Room to bring awareness to the work that co-ops do.
“Philadelphia Grocery Co-op Day is just a way to give back to the co-ops and give them a little bit more recognition for the work that they do in the communities,” said Valerie Baker, assistant store manager of Weavers Way in Chestnut Hill. “We really do so much to boost our communities; we buy local, we support local vendors and we even hire local. Everything we do comes back to you.”
Philadelphia Grocery Co-op Day will have Weavers Way, Swarthmore, South Philly Food, Kensington Community Food and Mariposa Food at the event to inform people about their local institutions. The day is a celebration of the Philadelphia co-ops and a reminder to support local businesses.
In a statement to the Local, Weavers Way called the event a “radical push-back to Amazon Prime Day.”
“Collectively, the grocery coops of Philadelphia fuel our local food economy,” the statement said. “They have an enduring and increasing impact on our local food shed. The co-ops support a robust network of over 400 local vendors.”
Although co-ops do much for the local economy, community and environment, most people are barely familiar with them at all. That’s why both the city and the businesses feel that this informational and celebratory event is greatly needed.
“I think a lot of people still haven’t heard about co-ops,” Baker said. “I’d say the vast majority of people don’t even know what a co-op is. I really want people to know who we are and what we do, because right now most people don’t, and the people who are starting to hear about us really like what we’re doing.”
While Baker recognizes the many benefits of online shopping, she also sees the need to support neighbors and friends in one’s community. With the dying nature of small businesses, she feels that, now more than ever before, shopping locally is absolutely crucial.
“Amazon, chain restaurants and other huge corporations are taking over, and you kind of miss those mom and pop places,” Baker said. “When you shop on sites like Amazon, you don’t always know where some of their stuff comes from. Here, you can trace it right back to the roots, and the odds are good that it’s within hundreds of miles from you.
“I understand why Amazon is popular,” she continued. “It’s convenient, but at the same time, if you have the opportunity to shop local and support you, your family and your community, you definitely should. In the end, you’re shopping local, you’re getting organic goods, you’re getting goods that tend to be on the healthier side and you’re getting really good products for your money.”
Meredith Bernstein is a summer intern at the Local.