Community Member Spotlight: Chicago Market


Story and reporting Maia Welbel.

We’re pretty into grocery shopping, especially when it comes to local stores. So you can imagine how excited we are at ZWC that Chicago Market—a food co-op that prioritizes sustainability and community—recently surpassed 1000 owners, and plans to open its doors in the near future.

Chicago Market was conceptualized in 2013 with the mission of promoting a connection to local food. Co-ops are built on the idea that local owners, not far-away investors, control the business through democratic decisions and enjoy successes together. Owners have the opportunity to vote on key decisions, provide feedback, and pitch ideas to board members. Once the store is open, anyone and everyone will be welcome to shop there.

In June 2017, the organization submitted a bid for the historic Gerber Building at the Wilson L-stop in Uptown. They are now waiting to for a final decision from the Chicago Transit Authority. In the meantime, Chicago Market has organized plenty of opportunities to connect with the community including ownership info sessions, knowledge swaps, book clubs, and community dinners. Ten seasonal pop-up markets throughout the city have featured local and regional food producers that will eventually sell their products in the Chicago Market store.

The Chicago Market community is committed to creating not only a grocery store, but a better food community that respects the environment, animal welfare, and the people who produce our food. The store will bring fair-waged jobs to the community while making healthy, locally produced food accessible to more people in Chicago. 

The Market will sell local produce, prepared foods, fresh baked goods, and even feature a juice and coffee bar. We can’t wait for the bulk section—new possibilities for zero waste shopping!

Sustainability is a critical aspect of the co-op’s mission, and this is reflected in everything from Chicago Market’s Purchasing Values to its store design and operations. In the Fall of 2017, we partnered with Chicago Market to start a Zero Waste Committee. Waste minimizing efforts will include extensive bulk product offerings, reduced waste generated throughout the supply chain, promoting reusable containers, and potentially establishing Chicago Market as a public recycling hub.

In order to make this vision a reality, Chicago Market is working to reach 2000 owners by the end of 2018. We want our community to have a voice in where their food comes from, how it’s grown, and the environmental footprint it leaves, and we are thrilled to support a business that is furthering this ambition!

To become an owner or volunteer with Chicago Market, you can visit their website.

Maia Welbel is a Master’s Candidate at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She loves writing about sustainable food systems and urban development. She is also a member of Cocodaco Dance Project, a Chicago-based contemporary dance company.