Apparently the Cleveland Food Co-op has been closed for 2 weeks, and the Plain Dealer is finally writing about its demise after 43 years…which should tell you something. I was an owner-member (not a worker). I didn’t buy much there, or often…bulk food mostly, or marked-down cafe food for lunch, or the occasional Rice Dream bar. And over the years I saw the shelves get emptier and the prices get higher. I don’t think I’ve been there this calendar year. While a few of their business decisions didn’t help (the ill-fated 2nd storefront), the main issue was that capitalist natural food stores outcompeted the communist natural food store. When I can get lower prices and better selection elsewhere, minus the ecological and political sanctimony, why shouldn’t I go there? And if I’m shopping on the basis of politics, John Mackey’s are a lot closer to mine than those of Bob Avakian. Plus there’s the matter of location. Students and a few Cleveland Heighters rolling down the hill don’t have the spending power of Shaker or Beachwood…which is why Whole Foods and Trader Joes are there. Nature’s Bin holds down the inner-ring-suburb segment well, though hiring the mentally handicapped (The Co-op had them too, though in their cases the cognitive disability was intentional.) so there was little reason for the store. I do feel sorry for the handful of True Believers…maybe they can dig up an empty lot and produce some food unsullied by commercial interests … and find out just how hard it is to be a Worker of the World.
RIP Cleveland Food Co-op