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Home » FOOD AND WINE in CT » CONNECTICUT (all topics) » A Food Destination For The 21st Century
A Food Destination For The 21st Century

Part 1 - New Haven’s Elm City Market Coop is Fast Becoming the ‘Go To’ Place for Food Shopping

By Brian Scott-Smith | March 21, 2012

We go to the supermarket or food store and think nothing of the produce on the shelves, other than we need it to fill up our kitchen cupboards at home.

But in certain parts of the US, getting a range of food, that is good quality and at reasonable prices isn’t as easy as you think and we’re not just talking about the food deserts of the large US States either.

New Haven is a vibrant city in Connecticut, but the downtown area had no major food market until recently.

But that’s changed thanks to the development and opening of the Elm City Market, a Co-op, which is owned by the community and run for the community.

Now in its four trading month and with fourteen hundred members already, the modern grocery store on Chapel Street is becoming a haven for all types of foodies as they cruise the aisles for a wide selection of goods.

Mark Regni is the General Manager of the market and has a long history in the natural foods industry, having opened some thirty stores in his career to date. But as he explained to me the Elm City Market was quite a challenge due to its short turnaround time from securing the finances to opening the doors back in November 2011.

“It was an immense task. Even getting past the construction phase is a big project. But in terms of the operations of starting the store it’s not only about opening a store it’s about starting a business.

“We don’t have a corporate headquarters to rely on and typically with a chain of stores they have that support system to rely on, we had to build that from ground zero and that was daunting. What would take between six to twelve months with a well-oiled corporate team, we did in six.”

In that time the store; which is part of a new apartment building in the area, had to create itself from nothing, pouring floors, putting in shelving and the interior, constructing offices and docking bays for delivery trucks and employing nearly one hundred people.

And the price tag for all of this, a whopping seven million dollars, which was secured from a myriad of sources both corporate and private.

But what actually does a coop mean?

In the loosest term it’s a collection of people or organizations that are formed for their mutual benefit, generally financial, who support local business and the community.

There are many types of Co-op and the Elm City Market falls in to the Coop Grocery Store category, but you can also have Coop distributors, Buyers clubs, the list is quite extensive.

So how is the Elm City Market helping the people and economy of New Haven and wider Connecticut?

Regni explains about the local items that can be found in the store, “We have about one hundred and fifty local vendors’ products in our store with about another one hundred regional vendors too.

“So we actively go out and seek people who want to have products in our store. And in turn by supporting local companies they may be able to employ more people, do more business and we anticipate we will put between six to seven million in to the local and regional economy this year with our purchasing alone. ”

Next week, ONE looks at how competitive the coop is on price, and it’s emerging role in education.

All images appear courtesy of, and are copyright, Elm City Market Member/Owner - John Parejko.


777 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06510

(203) 624 0441


Opening Hours:

Mon to Sat: 8AM – 9PM

Sun: 9AM – 8PM

United Nations site for International Year of Co-operatives:


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