Winston-Salem has a new grocery store — and a co-op.
Harvest Market had its grand opening Oct. 13 at 635 Peters Creek Parkway, and started its regular hours – 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily – on Oct. 17.
The market is a project years in the making.
The Rev. Gary Williams and the Rev. Willard Bass Jr. founded the SHARE Cooperative of Winston-Salem in 2016 and signed a lease for the current market space in 2017. Since then, they have been busy raising money — including a $300,000 grant from the city of Winston-Salem — as they transformed their dream into a reality.
The SHARE co-op idea developed out of Bass and Williams’ work with The Freedom Tree, a branch of the Institute for Dismantling Racism, which works to create and support policies for diverse and inclusive cultures.
“Gary and I are both ministers, so this is something we wanted to do for the community,” Bass said.
They specifically chose this project to help deal with the problem of food deserts — areas underserved by grocery or other food stores. “We are now the closest (grocery) store to downtown,” Bass said.
Williams is the president of Share Inc., a nonprofit that operates as the educational arm of the project, and Bass is the president of Harvest Market, set up as a for-profit business
Harvest Market is a full-service, if modest, grocery store. It carries almost everything you would expect in a supermarket — including fresh produce, fresh meats, pantry staples, paper products and cleaning supplies — but with a typically smaller selection.
On a recent visit, there was plenty of fresh produce, a limited selection of meats in the meat counter, and shelves stocked with plenty of popular products from such name brands as Hunt’s, Cheerios, Campbell’s, El Paso, Del Monte and more.
“We are member-driven. So, we ask members to tell what they’re looking for, and we’ll get it in the store,” Bass said.
A large part of the space is devoted to a spacious commercial kitchen and deli area. That area is currently unused, but Bass said he is negotiating with a local chef to run that as a contract employee. “We want to have breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he said. “And we do have some seating at the front, so people can eat there or get it to go.”
The public pays shelf price at the store. But co-op members — who already number more than 500 — get a 5% discount on marked prices as well as invitations to special events. Members also have opportunities to attend board meetings and participate in running the co-op.
Right now, membership costs $100, or $75 for students, seniors or SNAP recipients. Corporate members pay $275. Membership is currently a one-time fee, but Bass said it is possible that the co-op will switch to an annual fee in the future.
Bass is clearly pleased to have the market open after so many years of planning. But he said this really is just the beginning. “We still have a lot of work to do. Now, we need to get people coming in. We need to get the word out,” he said. “I guess I still have anxiety about people actually coming here to shop.”
But, he said, if the Harvest Market is a success, he and Williams already have their sights set on bringing another one to another food desert: East Winston.