North Minneapolis neighborhood celebrates opening of co-op

- A new lifestyle is taking root in north Minneapolis and the official grand opening of Wirth Co-Op is further proof.

“This is home,” said Winston Bell, Wirth Co-Op’s general manager. “You’re meeting your neighbor when you come here.”

From the soulful music and dancing, to the heart-healthy appetizers eaten by customers young and old, the party inside 1835 Penn Ave. N. definitely reflected the celebration of a North Minneapolis milestone, hosted outside Wirth Co-Op’s doors.

“To have this opportunity, to be a part of this, to be a big part of this, it feels great,” said Bell.

Bell was among those who cheered alongside Ward 5 Councilman Blong Yang and Mayor Betsy Hodges during the co-op’s ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon. 

“This is my first co-op, my first grocery,” said Bell, a north Minneapolis native.

Wirth Co-Op first welcomed customers August 10 with the support of 700 members upon opening. Thursday’s official grand opening lauds not only the 10 new full and part-time jobs to the area, but also the mainstay north side residents have long clamored for.

“I’m freaking excited!” said Jim Lovestar. “Way overdue. I’ve been waiting for this for years."

Lovestar has shopped at Wirth Co-Op every week since August.

“What keeps me coming back is the location, it’s about a mile away, and another thing that keeps me coming back is being able to pick up things that I wouldn’t find at a grocery store,” he said.

Lovestar’s devotion speaks to the thirst the cooperative hopes to quench. Because 67,000 of north Minneapolis residents live more than a mile from a single supermarket, it’s considered one of the largest federally designated food deserts in the country.

“But I prefer to call it a food swamp, there’s a lot of food available, it’s just not that great,” said Mayor Hodges during grand opening ceremony.

“I’m very glad it’s in my neighborhood and I’m so thankful for that… I’m a member too, whoo!” said Councilmember Yang.

Given that a co-op is a business owned by its members and exists to serve its members, both Mayor Hodges and Councilmember Yang see Wirth Co-Op as a source of strength, pride and sustainability for a troubled, often neglected part of Minneapolis.

“When the north side is leading our prosperity and our growth, that’s how we know that we’re on the right track as a city,” said Mayor Hodges.

“It's important for every community, we can't keep going to McDonald's, Burger King... it's for the better good,” said Bell.

Wirth Co-Op provides conventional supermarket items to appeal to those with traditional tastes and organic, natural foods. 

You do not need to be a member to shop at Wirth Co-Op. To learn more click here:

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