Arts and Culture
Food and Wine
People and Places
Science and Nature
Travel and Lodging
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
Home » FOOD AND WINE in CT » CONNECTICUT (all topics) » A Food Destination For The 21st Century
A Food Destination For The 21st Century

Part 2 - New Haven’s Elm City Market Coop is Fast Becoming the ‘Go To’ Place for Food Shopping

By Brian Scott-Smith | March 27, 2012

Previous Article in this Series

The Elm City Market Coop in downtown New Haven, Connecticut is redefining the food shopping experience.

But in these price conscience times just how competitive are they against the large national shopping chains? Especially when everyone is trying to stretch their dollar as far as they can.

Mark Regni the General Manager of the store says Co-op’s have more buying power than people think.

“We are a member of the National Cooperative Grocer’s Association, and by being a member you have the buying power of all of the other Coop’s, which is roughly one hundred and fifty stores.

“So we in turn get contract pricing from our main distributor for those goods that can compete with national chains. For other products, we’ve done hours and hours or homework looking at pricing locally and we are competitive.”

Another aspect of being part of a coop is that the local producers that Elm City Market trade with come direct to them, so cutting out a middleman distributor, meaning products are purchased and sold at cheaper prices.

And being a member has its benefits too. As the store has special offers, like any other food store, and on things that people actually want.

Plus if you’re in to the organic movement they stock a range of organic goods from fresh to frozen and canned for those with more of an environmental conscience and slightly bigger budgets.

And education is another role the market is happy to get involved with.

“I think the life blood of the natural foods industry is all about education and information because a lot of folks haven’t had the opportunity to have a full service natural food store available.

“And a lot of people aren’t familiar with the products we sell. So we back that up with in store demos and education and its incumbent on Elm City Market to go out in to the community and tell them our story and what we’re about.” Regni insists the store is affordable to all people on every budget.

With obesity being one of the nation’s biggest challenges it’s not just about educating the older shopper either, young children, the shoppers of the future are also encouraged to come visit the store to find out what it’s about.

“We have a great program here where we have school tours and educational programs for all walks of life. We still have to flesh it all out but there’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing thirty to forty school kids go through the store and learn all about healthy produce and what’s the difference between organic and conventional?”

And as a parent himself Regni recognizes that children are the “driver’s” as he puts it, influencing their parents decisions when it comes to food because every parent wants their kids to eat well.

Eating well is echoed around the world and this year is the United Nation’s International Year of the Coop 2012, where the work of all types of coop’s are being highlighted to help engage people and further their education.

Regni believes the initiative will help to consolidate coops such as Elm City Market and bring awareness not only to the work they and what it brings to the local economy but that they’re here to stay.

It of course goes beyond just food, it’s about jobs, local businesses and so much more in an economic time when it’s good to hear positive news stories that directly touch and affect us all on so many levels.

If you thought coop shopping wasn’t for you, then perhaps now’s the time to take a fresh look at an old idea reinvented for our modern times.

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:


Share |
ONE is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.