Gem City Market, a community co-op grocery store, welcomes first customers

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Wednesday afternoon, Gem City Market (GCM) officially opened for the community to shop after six years of planning and preparing. The full-service grocery store is also a grocery co-op and multi-stakeholder organization.

“It’s ours. We all have a part in this,” said Regina Martin who came to shop on Wednesday.

As of the grand opening, they had 4,300 member-owners and are expecting to add thousands more. The membership costs a one-time fee of $100, or $10 for those who self-identify as low-income. Then, any member can get special discounts, have a vote in important decisions, and help pay for the operating costs of a grocery store in a food desert.

“It was built by the hands of the community and there’s community ownership in the store, so the community has a say,” explained Leah Bahan-Harris, the general manager of GCM.

At the official store opening, hundreds of people lined up to get their first glimpse of the store. Elders in the community were ushered to the front and allowed to enter and shop first.

Located on Salem Avenue, GCM is the first store in the area in almost a decade and one of the first models of it’s kind. Inside the store is a health clinic, teaching kitchen, community room and coffee shop accessible to anyone in the community, whether or not they are a member of GCM.

Dayton Cooks Chef Thomas Johnson will lead cooking, nutrition and food preparation classes.

“My goal is to have our participants take the fresh food and vegetables and [create]into healthy meals,” he said.

GCM has also created job opportunities in the community.

” About 80 percent of our staff live directly around [the] market and trade area which is beautiful. We’ve had a lot of local talent and collaboration,” said Bahan-Harris.

Anyone can shop at GCM and thanks to the Food for All program, EBT/SNAP benefits, WIC, and Produce Perks benefits are all accepted.

There are multiple ways to become a member and you do not have to live in the area to be a member-owner. There are also opportunities to sponsor memberships for other people or give a gift.

For more information about membership, click here.

GCM is now open 7 days a week from 7 am to 9 pm. For more information, click here.

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