Kensington co-op market reopens following 4-month shutdown

Kensington Community
Kensington Community Food Co-op

After experiencing a four-month shutdown to reconfigure business operations and call for crowdfunding to stay afloat, the Kensington Community Food Co-op market has reopened to serve its residents.

This announcement was possible after 800 donors rallied to raise more than $200,000 to help keep the co-op’s mission to seek food justice alive.

Led by its board members, the co-op—founded in April 2019—aims to increase access to fresh, high-quality food and support local producers in the area, all while establishing a community-oriented space.

But in 2022, KCFC’s president Nadia Schafer wrote to members that the market was on the verge of shutting down after low recorded sales.

“They were uncapitalized when they opened the store, and then COVID hit,” said interim general manager Dennis Hanley. “In October 2022, we had to sell down the inventory and close the store. We opened up 15 weeks later in January 2023.”

Kensington Community Food Co-op

Hanley, who possesses over 45 years of experience in the retail and food industry, with 15 international assignments, says he and his staff are evaluating if their store’s location is ideal on the 2600 block of Coral Street.

“It is an amazing little corner, Lehigh Avenue and Coral Street. It’s one of the most diverse intersections I’ve ever been a part of,” stated Hanley, who has worked in 49 U.S. states.

He says that the store has been reset with the help of national cooperative grocers to add a more natural organic assortment after evaluating product selection categories within a three-mile radius.

In addition, the co-op has also shifted its branding effort to advertise that KCFC is for everyone.

“Co-ops are for everyone. There is no membership fee if you want to come in and shop. I think we have to do a better job of welcoming all of the community and getting the products they want,” Hanley said.

Along with KCFC’s revamping efforts, the market has added a bilingual speaking team of locals to improve customer service efforts that were reportedly lacking in the past.

“We had a BIPOC percentage in September of 6%,” said Hanley. “Today, we have a BIPOC percentage of 67%.”

Another area of focus for the store, according to the interim GM, is to take a stronger approach to pricing for the cost of goods.

Kensington Community Food Co-op

“Our price on bananas is 59-cents per pound. One of the lowest prices in this City of Philadelphia is Save-A-Lot, about three blocks from us. Their price on bananas is 59-cents per pound, too,” he said. The previous price at KCFC was $1 per pound.

The Kensington co-op has been accepted into the NCG (Northern California Grantmakers) membership community, which includes 155 other co-ops across the country.

Hanley states KCFC will be working on a supply agreement with UFNI and SuperValu to help provide a lower cost to its customers.

“We won’t be one store trying to make it on a corner. We’re going to be one store of a $2.5 billion business, and it’s going to help us get the prices right,” he added.

While partnering with local farmers still remains a core priority for the co-op, Hanley says KCFC’s revamped branding efforts will help influence local product success one by one to avoid low-profit volumes and wasted produce.

One of the local bulk food programs KCFC has added is “Wricely,” headquartered on the 400 block of Pattison Avenue.

“If you build that local flavor in your store, you’d have a new following. That’s what we are trying to create,” said Hanley.