Trotwood has seen a dearth of grocery stores in recent years and community members are taking the matter into their own hands.
For the last several weeks a survey has been circulating around the Trotwood community to ask residents if they would buy into a grocery cooperative for the city that mimics the model of the Gem City Market in Dayton.
Trotwood resident and planning commission member Khalilah Forte started the survey after she toured the Gem City Market in March.
“I get to hear a lot of what happens, new businesses that are coming in, and just seeing where we are being a food desert,” she said. “We should not have to drive to Englewood or drive to Miller Lane to be able to buy groceries, we should have something right in our community.”
The survey was spread through a Facebook post and has garnered many positive responses.
A grocery co-op is a community owned and operated grocery store where community members can purchase a membership or invest for member-ownership. The store would be open for all to shop, but members would receive discounts.
Trotwood’s last full-service grocer, Foodtown on East Main Street, closed its doors permanently in September 2019 for financial reasons.
“There have been multiple conversations regarding Trotwood not having a full-service grocery store and being a food desert. Without access to healthy foods, people living in food deserts may be at higher risk of diet-related conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease,” said city manager Quincy Pope.
Trotwood resident Stephanie White said she’s pleased with the prospect of a community grocery store and would buy into this store as well.
“I thought it would be a great idea. I initially invested in the one down the street. Even though it’s in close proximity, I thought it should be one that was closer to where we all live,” she said.
Dayton’s Gem City Market Grocery Co-Op located on Salem Avenue is about a 15-minute drive from the edge of Trotwood.
Forte said the former Foodtown market would be an ideal location or somewhere along Salem Avenue.
“I think smaller communities like Trotwood are sometimes forced to pull together and develop community-owned business models to help itself,” said Pope. “The city of Trotwood would support a successful proven best practice model community grocery store.”
Forte said that the Trotwood Co-Op would be more than a grocery store as it could dismantle some of the division in the city.
“Trotwood is so divided right now with our last election. I’ve been trying to find ways to be a caveat and kind of ridge everybody together. So, bringing the school district, the city, and the community together I think a co-op would be what we need,” she said.
There has been attempts to provide Trotwood with a grocery store that the community needs, but none have been successful. Forte said when the Foodtown grocery store announced it would be closing, some area business owners came together to buy the store and keep it running.
“I think that overhead was too high as far as how much it would cost per month to keep the grocer going. I think it was too much for those business owners to break off,” she said.
The Gordon Food Service in Trotwood announced an expansion in 2019 but the efforts were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are still in discussions with Gordon Foods and have offered incentives for the retailer to actually build a new grocery store in Trotwood,” Pope said.
Next steps for the Trotwood grocery co-op is to form a group of about five people to undergo training and market research to assess the need in the city.