Bethlehem is a very walkable city, with two “sides” joined by a river, each boasting their own personalities and local characters.

Unfortunately, at the moment the gaping hole in what this community needs is a grocery store downtown. It’s something the residents have been talking about for years. We are all trying to learn more – is there a reason why there is no local store in walking distance of the rest of the shops and businesses? (At the moment signs point to insufficient parking being an issue. More needs to be looked at here.)

 Some residents and folks in the area are coming together to talk about the wonderful idea of a Grocery Co-op in Bethlehem. I have been working with Cathy Frankenberg, local environmental activist and all-around wonderful person, to organize a plan to learn more about the possibility of bringing this to our town and carry it out.

A food Co-op existed here in the 1980's!

A Grocery Co-op, in simplest terms for anyone not familiar with them, is essentially a grocery store that focuses on selling local/organic foods and environmentally friendly products. They often have (and our vision does) a community room to hold a cooking class or a movie screening/discussion. They often have a small cafe/prepared foods area so you can pick up some lunch or dinner and a fair trade coffee.

About the size of a Trader Joes – bigger than a small health food store but smaller than a large grocery chain – Co-ops are member owned: which means once you join as a member, you are now an owner of shares and this means you get to vote on issues and policies. (It also means you get a nice discount!)

Peoples Co-op

Essentially a non-profit, Co-ops also mean prices reflect just enough revenue to cover the cost of operation and it’s staff, meaning items are affordable and use of extra revenue generated is voted upon by owners (see above!) to determine how best to use the money.

This also means quality foods and environmentally friendly products are affordable for most income levels. You should not have to make a lot of money to afford good, healthy food.

Real Food Co-op

This could be an invaluable assest to our community and local farmers and anyone who would like to keep their dollars recycled among local businesses and community efforts.


A meeting open to ANYONE interested in learning more, with ideas to share, or experience or knowledge of moving forward is invited to come to a meeting (after which we can organize a steering committee):

  • Bethlehem Grocery Co-op Meeting
  • Wednesday, November 30th
  • 7:00pm – 9:00pm
  • Bethlehem Area Public Library (Main/Northside location)

Davis Food Co-op

You can look at a few websites of co-ops in the United States that serve as models for what we hope to do:  GreenStar in Ithaca, NY.  East End Co-op in Pittsburgh, PA. Rainbow Co-op in San Francisco, CA. Tacoma Food Co-op in Tacoma, Washington. … and there are so many more!
I urge you to spread the word about the meeting and the Facebook Group! 

24 thoughts on “BETHLEHEM GROCERY CO-OP: Let’s Do This

  1. What a great effort! I grew up in Pittsburgh going to the East End Food Co-op and LOVED it. Now, I live in Seattle and frequent the co-ops here. Is there anything I could do to help Bethlehem move forward with getting a Co-Op from afar? So happy to see this project!

    • THANK YOU! If you have any general ideas or knowledge of what makes it successful, things you did or did not like… anything at all, really! We want to gather info and make a really great plan to present to the people who can help get this off the ground. The more detailed the better – I want people to visualize how wonderful it could be. Thank you for your support!

  2. It is very nice to see an effort is being put to create a co-op grocery store in the A-B-E area. The first step of getting several people together to establish desired plans is correct. Many parts, from physical location to methods of operation need to be considered by this group. Many years ago, it was a pleasure to work with OURS-DELACO, doing similar work in selling produce for rural farmers in New York. Before that, I lived in Easton area for a short time. May God be with you in this effort.

    • Thank you for your advice and support Chester! Not sure if you still live in the area, but please feel welcome to attend the meeting if you’re able. Our first steps are to organize ideas/concerns/things to think about like opening any sort of business – we really want to be prepared to we can have something cohesive and solutions to potential problems if possible. So nice of you to share your thoughts 🙂

    • Thank you! I know there are a lot of food co-ops currently, or that have existed in the past in the LV, but none of them have been 7-day a week grocery stores that just anyone can shop in. I would love to get in touch with those folks and see if they have ideas or want to be a part of it or if we can help each other! Thank you 🙂

  3. Pingback: Why There Isn’t a Grocery Store in Downtown Bethlehem

  4. Hey, we have our first meeting scheduled for Wednesday, November 30th at the Bethlehem Library on Church Street from 7-9. Bring a friend, some ideas, and something yummy to share with the group!
    See the FB page for more details 🙂

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  6. Pingback: A Co-Op? In Bethlehem? Let’s Do It!!! « fromherenow

  7. There *was* a food co-op in the LV just a couple of years ago–but it wasn’t a store to just shop in; it was place an order and pick up on your delivery day. Does anyone know what happened to that?

  8. The Lehigh Valley Food Co-op was well worth the effort in my opinion, but was an incredible amont of work and really needed organizers with a strong business and grocery background. It was a sad day for LV Co-op members when the Lehigh Valley Food Co-op went out of business in June, 2011 after 2 years + in business with a retail store in Emmaus and an online ordering pick-up system. In the end, 400 + members lost their investments in the business and their $100.00 membership fee.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Were you a member or organizer? Everyone would benefit from people who have experience or advice. If you are able to make it to the meeting on Nov. 30th, it sounds like you’d have a lot of ideas to bring to the table as far as issues that may arise, what works and what doesn’t, etc. We want to use the experiences of others to help move this forward and be successful 🙂

  9. Jaime! This is such exciting news! I don’t live in B’hem, but visit often because my in-laws live there. I’ve been complaining for years about the lack of grocery in the downtown area. It seems almost too obvious doesn’t it? I would definitely shop there when I visit. Maybe there could be an out-of-towner membership so I could help out as well ; ) Can’t wait to hear more about this!


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