RIP Cleveland Food Co-op

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.


4 Responses to RIP Cleveland Food Co-op

  1. Ron & Donna says:

    So sorry to hear of the demise of the Co-op, which was really the best option within walking distance of the Italian gabbie di conigli where I dwelt prior to escape. Some of the people who worked at the Co-op were extraordinarily personable and competent but I can see how you might think some of them were Wobbly beyond reason. It seems the 21st century offers no comfort for the ideologue of any particular stripe, and the most important question we are asked is “Do you want fries with that?”


  2. jeffreyquick says:

    Ow, ain’t that the truth! Funny, Stephen and I were discussing this, and the fact that even the unemployed don’t want to make food from raw materials, and what that means for these stores, and the whole notion of a society that thinks it’s being productive by cooking each other’s burgers.. He used to get his low-sodium canned stuff there, but they stopped carrying it. At one point, they were out of PEANUT BUTTER…how can a co-op be out of PB? I never talked politics there; my impressions were mostly the newsletters and postings. And if there’d been Wobs, well, I have a soft spot in my heart for them…knew a lot of IWW people in Ann Arbor my senior year, when they were organizing the student bookstore.

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