1972 – East End Food Buying Club

1972 – East End Food Buying Club

Point Breeze residents David & Rodah Zarembka were impressed by their experience with “buying clubs” in Philadelphia and decided to start one in the basement of their building on Hastings Street to serve the other tenants. When the mission grew to address poverty in Pittsburgh’s East End, the club received a $20,000 start-up grant from

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1978 – Open to Everyone

As the East End Food Buying Club grew, it opened both a retail storefront and a supply company in a warehouse at 5474 Penn Avenue in Garfield. The Consumer Cooperative of Pittsburgh operated as a produce and bulk goods distributor to 20 local food clubs, plus 150 co-ops and other local businesses in Pennsylvania and

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1980 – EEFC Incorporates

1980 – EEFC Incorporates

On June 16, 1980, the East End Food Co-op officially incorporated as a domestic nonprofit cooperative corporation under the District of Columbia Cooperative Association Act. Officially incorporating provided several key legal benefits, including more favorable tax regulations and most importantly, limited liability protection of the personal assets of shareholders. Shortly after incorporation, the Consumer Cooperative

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1985 – Pittsburgh’s Only Cooperative Grocer

In January of 1985, the Semple Street Food Co-operative Association closed its doors and encouraged its members to join what was now Pittsburgh’s only cooperatively-owned grocery store – the East End Food Co-op. The EEFC Board offered a year of free membership privileges to all former Semple Street members, many of whom eventually became stalwart

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1986 – Move to The Factory

1986 – Move to The Factory

As the eighties progressed, EEFC outgrew the Garfield warehouse space and became one of the first tenants of “The Factory”, a building which formerly housed the Pennsylvania Electric Coil factory. In order to finance the move, each member household was required to buy a $35 share, as well as continuing to pay the $6 annual

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1989 – The Co-operator

1989 – The Co-operator

Volunteer members, at that time known as “skillsworkers” launch The Co-operator newsletter. Initially a sporadic bulletin, by 1992 the “Voice of the East End Food Co-op” is a bi-monthly publication mailed to each member household, featuring store news, sales information, board updates, member and staff profiles alongside informative articles, recipes, and advertisements from the broader

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1990 – Co-op Café Celebrates Grand Opening

1990 – Co-op Café Celebrates Grand Opening

In April of 1990, the Co-op Café celebrated its grand opening, boasting a “most unique, multifaceted vegetarian menu including vegan delights, wheat free alternatives, macrobiotic simplicity, and egg and dairy favorites.”

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1993 – East End Food Co-op Credit Union

EEFC members gained another member benefit when the EEFC Federal Credit Union opened its doors to members residing in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties on November 3, 1993. This established a member-owned democratically-run financial institution serving as a source of low-cost credit for EEFC members. Within one month of operation, the Credit Union had gained over

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1995 – Profit and Expansion Planning

As early as 1993, the Board of Directors started considering expansion opportunities for a more “user-friendly” space based on member and staff feedback that “shelf and warehouse space are severely limited.” By 1995, expansion became the primary focus of the Board’s work. To increase working capital, the Board instituted a fundamental change in the requirements

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1998 – “Membership Appreciation Day”

July 11 – EEFC held an event called “Membership Appreciation Day”. The store conducted a sampling of many products and gave members 10% discount on all purchases. Members responded in grand fashion, purchasing close to $18,000, a one-day sales record for the time. “MAD” days became a monthly tradition that continued until the implementation of

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1999 – Capital Campaign

1999 – Capital Campaign

After 18 months of actively searching for a new store location, EEFC Board and Management identified the ground level west end of The Factory as an ideal new home. Expansion and renovation costs were estimated at $750,000 and the Board set a lofty goal to raise half that amount directly from the membership, via share

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2000 – Expansion

2000 – Expansion

In January, EEFC signed for a small loan from PNC and signed a new lease for the space immediately adjacent to its current store, essentially doubling the amount of retail space. Then Board President Ray Schinhofen, an accomplished architect and construction manager, offered his services at no cost, saving the Co-op roughly 30% of the

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2003 – New Levels of Member Engagement

2003 – New Levels of Member Engagement

In order to allow greater member knowledge and participation in donations to community non-profit organizations, the Co-op instituted the One Percent Wednesdays Every fourth Wednesday of each month, the Co-op donated one percent of its sales to a chosen charity, based on the recommendations of members. For the first time ever, the EEFC was able

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2004 – National Cooperative Movement

EEFC and 100 other food co-ops, previously organized into regional Cooperative Grocer Associations, joined together to form the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA). Pooling their buying power, NCGA become the second largest supplier of natural foods in the country. With hopes of getting more co-ops to join, the goal was to become the industry frontrunner,

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2005 – Local Partners Program

2005 – Local Partners Program

In an effort to support local neighborhood businesses in the face competition from national “big box” stores, and to provide another useful benefit to its members, EEFC instituted the Local Partners Program. Independent and locally-owned small businesses agreed to offer Co-op members discounts on merchandise and services, in exchange for advertising and promotion opportunities. This

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2006 – Major Technological Innovation

2006 – Major Technological Innovation

In September 2006, a major efficiency upgrade occurred – the installation of a Point-of-Sale (POS) system. This computerized register system enabled staff to price our merchandise efficiently, to scan items at check-out, and to track and analyze sales data. Members were provided enhanced customer service with more accurate pricing, quicker check-out time, and ease of

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2006 – Art Harvest

2006 – Art Harvest

While the Co-op hosted several summer street events over the years, including a Grand Opening Picnic for the new storefront and the Summer Wellness Festival, perhaps the longest running and most celebrated event was Art Harvest, which was first in September of 2006. The community spilled out onto Meade Street in front of the store

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2008 – Cooperative Discussion Course

The EEFC Board published a manual for community self-directed education entitled, “A Discussion Course on Cooperatives.” This self-directed study course entailed short readings and discussion tools about co-op history, philosophy, and models. The debut of this educational resource was accompanied by an eight-week study group led by Board members right here at EEFC and was

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2008 – No more plastic bags

Ahead of its time, EEFC stopped providing blue plastic bags for shoppers, in an effort to promote reuse, eliminate waste, and to mitigate the environmental impact of plastic bags. The Co-op continued to provide brown paper bags, and to offer a 10-cent discount for every reusable bag or box that a customer brought with them

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2008 – Co-op Community Fund

2008 – Co-op Community Fund

The Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation matched earmarked revenue from EEFC for the development of a “Co-op Community Fund.” The purpose was to award grants to social and environmental organizations, with particular emphasis toward beginning new co-ops.

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2009 – Sustainable Agriculture Business Leader

2009 – Sustainable Agriculture Business Leader

EEFC was named the 2009 “Sustainable Agriculture Business Leader” by the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture, in recognition of “outstanding contributions of health, well-being and eating pleasure rendered to the natural foods community throughout southwestern Pennsylvania by the staff, directors and members of the cooperative, and for their consistent commitment to promoting wholesome products from

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2009 – CCMA Host

EEFC was selected to host the 53rd Annual Consumer Cooperative Management Association conference, bringing together more than four hundred participants from nearly seventy co-ops, providing the opportunity to communicate, celebrate and learn more about cooperation in Pittsburgh!

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2009 – Seeds of Justice Award

2009 – Seeds of Justice Award

Anti-hunger non-profit Just Harvest honored the Co-op with the “Seeds of Justice Award” for leadership in social and economic justice at the 21st Annual Harvest Celebration Dinner. EEFC was recognized by the organization as, “a leading force in our region for sustainable and local food, fair trade, and just treatment of workers in the food

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2010 – Co-founding Pittsburgh Food Policy Council

2010 – Co-founding Pittsburgh Food Policy Council

The Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, a collaborative advisory organization committed to working with City residents and officials to develop food and urban agriculture policy, is founded. As a founding member of the Council, the Co-op hosts early meetings  in EEFC’s administrative offices.

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2010 – Jefferson Award for Volunteerism

2010 – Jefferson Award for Volunteerism

In recognition for twenty years of dedicated volunteer service, Bill Wekselman was honored with the Jefferson Award, a prize given each year to individuals from across the nation for their achievements and contributions through public and community service. Bill was invited to the national Jefferson Awards Ceremonies hosted each year since 1972 in Washington D.C.,

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2012 – Bicycle Friendly Business

2012 – Bicycle Friendly Business

The League of American Bicyclists acknowledged EEFC with a Bicycle Friendly Business Bronze Award, based on our expansive outdoor bike parking, indoor bike parking and DIY repair station, and for bike education and advocacy efforts. At this point we also became one of 33 certified Bike Friendly Businesses in the state of Pennsylvania.

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2012 – 10,000 Members!

EEFC grows to be 10,000 active household memberships strong! In celebration, Martin Scanlan and his family were awarded with a gift certificate and cupcakes at the Annual Meeting in recognition of becoming our 10,000th active household membership.

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2013 – Register Round Up

2013 – Register Round Up

The Register Round Up program debuts, replacing the donation programs formerly known as 1% Wednesdays, and later 5% Wednesdays. Rather than allocating a percentage of sales from one day a month, the Register Round Up program engages every customer during each transaction with the ability to “round up” to the nearest dollar amount. These contributions

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2014 – Volunteer Program Ends

2014 – Volunteer Program Ends

In the process of accessing the feasibility of expanding the volunteer program to include off-site opportunities, it became clear to EEFC board and management that current labor laws and corresponding insurance requirements did not lend support or favor the use of volunteer labor within the cooperative corporation business structure. September 14, 2014 was the last

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2015 – 412 Food Rescue Partnership

2015 – 412 Food Rescue Partnership

A partnership is forged with 412 Food Rescue, a local non-profit working to end hunger and eliminate food waste by utilizing a network of volunteers to collect excess or unsellable food and deliver it to organizations in need. EEFC donated more than 500 pounds of fresh food in the first month of the partnership!

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2016 – Co-op Staff Unionize

2016 – Co-op Staff Unionize

On September 21, 2015, the East End Food Co-op staff voted to be represented by the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE). Included in the collective bargaining agreement are all employees of the Co-op excluding supervisors, managers, and confidential employees. Leading up to the election, the Co-op board and management took a

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2016 – Co+op Kids Free Fruit Program Launch

The Co-op introduces a free fruit program called Co+op Explorers (now Co+op Kids). Children who sign up for the free program receive one free piece of fruit per Co-op visit. The Co-op gave out 960 pieces of  fruit in the program’s first year.

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