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In Park Slope: to coop or not to coop?

  • l
  • LA Jan 12, 2006 10:07 PM
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Thoughts on whether it's worth it?

Thanks!

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  1. For me, YES.
    I live in Fort Greene, where there aren't very good supermarket options. After my one trip to Pathmark, I wanted to kill myself. My time in SF also spoiled me to expect fresh produce at good prices, and truly, the prices at the coop are unbelievable. Yes, there's often a long wait to check out, and the space is small, and the multiple stopping points are annoying, but to me, it's a pretty small price to pay, especially living in a city where it's almost impossible to avoid cramped shopping and long lines in any grocery store. And despite all the warnings I got about nightmare coop members, I've only had good experiences, and I'm a cashier so I interact with a LOT of members. (caveat: I've only been a member for a few months).

    1. What is great about the coop is the huge inventory of produce at great prices and it is of the highest quality. If you're a big fan of fruits and vegetables this is not something you will find anywhere in the city. The greenmarkets never have (Maybe Union Sq.) this selection (coop does feature local crops in season.)There is a lot of everything else,too, from toothpaste to many kinds of olives to organic meats to housewares. The dreaded long lines and self righteous Slopers are easily put aside for the goods available. You would have to commit to working a three hour shift once a month. And you can take a tour, you know, to see if it feels right. I resisted, annoyed at the would be demands, but it is the best thing around for any number of reasons.

      1. What is great about the coop is the huge inventory of produce at great prices and it is of the highest quality. If you're a big fan of fruits and vegetables this is not something you will find anywhere in the city. The greenmarkets never have (Maybe Union Sq.) this selection (coop does feature local crops in season.)There is a lot of everything else,too, from toothpaste to many kinds of olives to organic meats to housewares. The dreaded long lines and self righteous Slopers are easily put aside for the goods available. You would have to commit to working a three hour shift once a month. And you can take a tour, you know, to see if it feels right. I resisted, annoyed at the would be demands, but it is the best thing around for any number of reasons.

        3 Replies
        1. re: dave

          I think what it comes down to is if you can make the time to do a shift every month. The 'tude is waaay better than the average health food store, and the variety of people so vast that the social experience is what you make it. If you're looking for community, it's there.

          But bottomline it's about incredibly good cheap food. Do you care about the parenting style of the person standing next to you? I sure don't. Bring on the fancy cheese and non-grocery-store-smell butter! Perfect kale and other stuff you never saw before, 365 days a year.

          AND the coop is one of the cleanest grocery stores in NYC.
          But if you don't have three hours a month to stack beer, forget it.

          1. re: pitu

            Agreed! With all the positives. And the negatives. Might I add that the 'tude at a normal supermareket (if you have one near you in Brooklyn, which I don't) is passively rude at best. At the coop there is not the server-served hierarchy that you have at most supermarkets as everybody doing checkout and cashier is a member. People are generally so friendly that I'm actually shocked when people are rude (which they are, sometimes). However, you always buy more than you think you will, so if you don't live nearby it is helpful to have access to some sort of vehicle...also, because of the long lines, you don't necessarily want to go all the time as it can easily eat up an hour or two.

            1. re: peasplease

              The constant access to excellent produce just makes you want to eat healthy because it tastes good, not for any other reason. We were members for several years, then dropped out in frustration over the aforementioned negatives. But We recently rejoined because we realized that when we were members we were just healthier. For us, dealing with the negatives is well worth it. Even the union square market doesn't have the variety of the coop, not to mention the prices. And in the 2 or so years that we were gone the coop has made serious efforts to address some of the shortcomings. Is it perfect? Certainly not, but if you like to cook and eat at home, it's better than any other option.

        2. Pros: Great selection, low prices.

          Cons: Cramped space, long lines, excessive checkpoints, and preachy atmosphere.

          1. Best prices/quality in the USA.

            1. Here's a link to a productive recent thread on the topic:

              Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

              1. I agree that the coop has the best prices and produce around, as well as with all the other positive stuff everyone else said. I have been a member since college, over 10 years now, and really miss the coop when I'm away.

                the key is to go shopping on off hours if possible, if you have a flexible schedule and can shop during the week or during the day, you are in luck! also, as to the comments about all the checkpoints, while they can seem annoying, they are neccessary, since every year some people figure out a way to steal a lot of food or money from the coop, you'd be surprised (or not) how much and how often people take advantage of a worker run spot.

                you will get the best food, and the most organic options, and your bill will be half that of other stores!

                1. The Coop is far superior to the Park Slope CSA, which ends up costing much more for the quantity, and in addition, will give you things you probably are not interested in eating. Many of the same farms sell their produce in the Coop and there, you end up paying less for it, and choosing your favorites.

                  I was a member of both, and got tired of paying $17 per week for collard greens, a few fibrious carrots and terrible radishes, and not much else.

                  On the other hand, not all CSAs are that bad. I was a member of a different CSA, Roxbury Farm, (for Manhattan or Westchester county) which was outstanding. Especially since there is no Coop there.

                  But given a choice, go with the Coop, no question.

                  1. Whether you join is ultimately up to you. I'm not a member, I don't want to be a member. I was treated very rudely on more than one occasion when I went to inquire about being a member and was very turned off. I'm not saying all Coop members are rude, just this particular group turned me off. That and the fact that you have to pay dues as well as do a shift. I'd rather clip my coupons and compare prices from store to store.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MrsT

                      Some people are rude at supermarkets too.

                      And. . .there are no dues. There is a one time $125.00 fee, of which you get back $100 when you leave the co-op. This money goes towards financing the benefits of the full time employees. I saved much more than $125.00 since joining 4 years ago.

                      1. re: gfood

                        You're right about the rudeness at supermarkets, they can be rude there too. I think I just hold my neighbors to a higher standard than the minimum wage teen-agers at Key Food. I appologize about misunderstanding the concept of the $125 fee. Maybe if the people at the door took the time to answer my questions I would have understood them better.

                    2. Cash only, no parking, and a whole lot of rules and PC attitude.

                      PSCOOP is an ideological institution more than a food source. If you like regulation, regimentation, arbotrary rules and conformity of thought, you might like it.

                      OTOH, if you are more independent thinking, and looking for good quality with all the conveniences, privacy, and freedom of real markets, try FAIRWAY .

                      The People's Republic of Park Slope is not everyone's cup of tea.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Fleur

                        You said it! I don't need to get hit in the ankle with strollers or have someone wave the Socialst Worker Times in my face just to save a few bucks.

                      2. Fleur's got it.
                        The Co-op always reminded me of the old NYC Board of Education.
                        Or even this:
                        A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
                        Yes, Winston Churchill wrote that about the good 'ol USSR.
                        "Regulation, regimentation, arbitrary rules, conformity of thought."
                        And all I wanted was a head of lettuce.

                        1. it's pretty cool to be part of a bigger community ...i suspect that the two posters above belong to other communities with their own rules and regulations and ones that others might bristle at. no community is for everyone. that said, the psfc is unique and exciting. enjoy fairway.

                          1. I had been warned extensively when I first moved to the area that the coop was full of arbitrary rules and their fascist enforcement. I thought I would check it out anyway and went for a a tour. It's true that there are plenty of rules there but everyone I spoke with was always ready, if not eager, to explain their origin and purpose. Since joining, both management and the other members have been consistently helpful and really pretty easy going.
                            However, if you go at the really busy times (right after work on weekdays and weekend afternoons) the place will be PACKED and you definitely will get hit in the ankles with strollers.
                            For me, it comes down to this: The selection and prices just can't be beat. It's worth it for me just for the prices on cheese and spices which blow fairway out of the water. (I love fairway and used to regularly drive 45 minutes to visit their cheese department and still often shop there.)

                            This was long. I absolutely recommend the coop. You can always leave if it isn't working out.