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Up-and-Coming Windsor Terrace Food Co-op Moves Closer to Reality

By Leslie Albrecht | December 17, 2013 9:46am
 The Park Slope Food Co-op was founded in 1973. Now Windsor Terrace residents hope to start a similar grocery co-op in their neighborhood.
The Park Slope Food Co-op was founded in 1973. Now Windsor Terrace residents hope to start a similar grocery co-op in their neighborhood.
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WINDSOR TERRACE — They've got the people power, now they need a name and a location.

Windsor Terrace residents who want to start their own Park Slope-style food co-op have garnered support from about 500 people since beginning their quest a year ago, and momentum is building, organizers say.

"Things are moving forward," said Jack O'Connell, who's been involved in the new venture since its early days. "We've passed a barrier where we have some really new, good energy."

On Tuesday night the group will tackle an important milestone — giving itself a name. Supporters submitted suggestions online, and for the past two weeks they've been voting for their favorites.

They'll pick a moniker from among the top three vote-getters at a potluck dinner and holiday celebration. The contenders are: Windsor Terrace Food Co-op, Prospect Park Food Co-op, and KWT Co-op, which references the nearby Kensington neighborhood.

The next challenge is to find a storefront, a tough task in a mostly residential neighborhood with few commercial spaces, O'Connell said. A site committee has been scouting potential properties, but O'Connell said the group was prepared to wait for the right spot to open up.

"Everybody tells us you don’t want to start too early and have it fail, so we’re being very judicious," O'Connell said.

He and others have been meeting with Park Slope Food Co-op leaders for advice and were told it generally takes two to three years to launch a food co-op.

Windsor Terrace residents want to create a store that mirrors the Park Slope model, where shoppers must be members and work a set number of hours in return for buying high-quality food at discounted prices.

O'Connell said the movement has gotten a boost from an influx of young families into Windsor Terrace, a tucked away neighborhood with a smalltown feel that the New York Times recently anointed as a "top choice destination" for homebuyers.

Those new arrivals wanted better quality, affordable fresh food, and the idea of a co-op appeals to them, O'Connell said.

O'Connell, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 28 years, said younger families were also looking for a place where neighbors who share similar values could come together — a role once played by groups such as the the American Legion and Veteran of Foreign Wars.

"The younger people are looking for people of like mind and philosophy who will get together and do things for the community," O'Connell said. "A food co-op could be central to organizing the community."

The idea for a Windsor Terrace food co-op was hatched after the neighborhood's only full-service supermarket, the Key Food on Prospect and 10th avenues, closed abruptly in the summer of 2012.

Angry locals protested passionately against the closure and eventually convinced Key Food to return. The grocer will build a new store and share the lot with a new Walgreens drugstore. The new Key Food was expected to open in the summer of 2014, a spokeswoman told DNAinfo on Monday.