Elm City Market opens its doors

Elm City Market opens its doors to the public on Thursday after months of anticipation. The market had a members-only opening and ribbon cutting on Wednesday.
Elm City Market opens its doors to the public on Thursday after months of anticipation. The market had a members-only opening and ribbon cutting on Wednesday. Photo by Victor Kang.

Just as students were getting used to the new Stop and Shop on Whalley Avenue, a new grocery store has moved into town.

Elm City Market, a co-op store located on the first floor of the 360 State Street building, had a ribbon-cutting ceremony and opening for its members Wednesday morning, and will open to the public today at 8 a.m. This opening comes 40 days after construction on the store concluded and over a year after the store was officially announced last October.

Before doors opened on Thursday, however, the store’s launch was delayed multiple times.

“We are not just a rumor,” said general manager Mark Regni who joked that he “runs the place and pushes the broom.”

Regni said the co-op spent several weeks checking prices before its opening, so the store could be as affordable as possible in addition to providing healthy and organic food.

“Other stores that try to be fresh are usually also costly,” said Amy Christensen, the store’s marketing and member services Manager. “We’ve worked very hard to not do that because everyone deserves access to fresh, healthy food.”

Christensen said co-op members pay a single $200 fee that can be paid in monthly installments. A reduced price is offered to those with limited resources, she added.

Co-op members, Regni said, receive discounted prices on some items. Empire apples from Norton Brothers, for example, are currently 77 cents a pound for members and 99 cents a pound for non-members.

Although some members are residents of 360 State Street, the co-op counts many other New Haven residents among its membership. These include many members of the Yale community, such as Matt Akamatsu GRD ’15, who said he danced in the middle of an aisle at the sight of the market’s varied granola selection. The store, he said, provides an alternative to the “overpriced” and limited products found in the convenience stores in which he previously shopped.

Akamutsu and his roommates bought one co-op membership as a household. One of his roommates, Steve Reilly GRD ’15 said the market is the only “feasible” grocery store he saw that downtown New Haven residents could access without a car.

“Stop and Shop looked good but the produce wasn’t maybe as nice,” said Sela Fermin NUR ’14 who moved to New Haven from Cambridge Mass. a few months ago. She said she became a co-op member because it seemed like a better investment than a zip car.

Fermin, like other Elm City Market co-op members interviewed by the News, said she felt confident in her investment because the managing group assured repayment if the co-op did not succeed.

Regni said the market was established very quickly compared to other co-ops which sometimes take years to develop. The co-op has had a steady rise in membership in the months leading up to the grand opening with over a hundred new members signing up in the past three weeks, Christensen added.

“Most of the big grocery stores send their profits oversees,” said Christensen. “We are owned by people who live here and have our products grown and made by people who live here.”

The Elm City Market currently has more than 800 members, according to Christensen.

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