Hub City Co-Op: One Market, 1800 Owners
If You Only Have 60 Seconds…
- Hub City Co-Op is a full-service grocery store in the heart of Spartanburg that is offering local and all-natural groceries.
- The Co-Op is dedicated to their customers, in fact, that is what a Co-Op is. It is a grocery store that is community operated.
- If you are looking for local produce, this is the place to go. “If you can’t find it here, you can’t source it.”
As I wait for Tony Foley, the manager of Hub City Co-Op, I notice something about the employees. They aren’t just stocking the shelves, preparing food for the day’s menu, or even just writing the menu on a chalkboard. They seem to genuinely be enjoying what they are doing. They are smiling; chatting with one another. Think about your last grocery store experience. Did it seem like the employees genuinely wanted to be there?
One Market, 1800 Owners
Taking a seat at a long wooden table, Tony greets me with a smile. It is instantly apparent that Tony has a passion for the Co-Op. For those of you who aren’t exactly sure what a Co-Op is, it is a grocery store that is Community Operated (see, Co-Op). Members of the community can buy shares or “ownership” in the Co-Op. This gives them a say in how the store is run and even what products they carry. Tony beams with pride as he tells me that Hub City Co-Op currently has over 1,800 owners.
Starting a year and a half ago, the Co-Op was the brainchild of a few local business leaders who saw a need to connect with their community. There was also a need for a grocery store in the heart of Spartanburg. The mission? To make healthy, locally sourced options available to a wider range of people. “Most of the construction taking place in Downtown Spartanburg is housing, we want to be a place these people can go.” Even for lower-income individuals are welcome at the Co-Op as they accept EBT.
The Co-Op is a block away from the bus station, and this has definitely had an impact on the clientele. “There is nothing to do around the bus station, so people waiting on their bus can come here.” Tony tells stories of regulars who come from the bus station to the Co-Op, and how he has personally taken special orders over to the station for patrons. That is the kind of service you won’t get from a regular grocery store. Speaking of special orders, that is something the Co-Op does. If they don’t currently carry something, you can request it, and they will order it for you.
“Farmer’s Markets only last for so long, and these farmers grow more than they can sell at these markets.”
One (of the many) things that sets Hub City Co-Op apart from your run-of-the-mill grocery store is that they frequently partner with the community on events like Empty Bowls, diabetes expos, and health expos that aim to educate members of the community on health and healthy eating. They also donate prepared food to local food ministries.
The Co-Op’s philosophy on food reflects this dedication to healthy eating. 50-75% of the store’s produce is locally sourced depending on the time of year. Hub City Co-Op makes it a priority to partner with local food vendors and growers to get the bulk of their stock. This way you can know exactly where their food comes from. Even during winter months, they try to source produce from growers who utilize greenhouses.
If “local’ is too vague of a term for you, Tony has an anecdote that will help clear things up. “This guy, Maurice, with his basket of green beans. He grew these green beans. We buy them. We buy Maurice’s green beans.” They even know the names of the people who they get their produce from. “Farmers need an outlet. Farmer’s Markets only last for so long, and these farmers grow more than they can sell at these markets.” That is where Hub City comes in.
Aside from local, Hub City Co-Op’s food is all-natural, fresh, organic, and Non-GMO. “We won’t compromise.” This dedication to freshness even extends to the meats that the Co-Op sells. “The meats are all-natural, GMO-free, free-range. They are cured meats as well as nitrate-free.”
Hub City Co-Op offers more than just a fresh way to grocery shop. They also have a daily hot bar. While I didn’t get to try any of the food, I did smell it and see it. Let me tell you, it looked incredible. The hot bar menu changes daily, and the menu is announced on social media. “Lunch is our most popular time of day.” The most popular day of the week? Taco Tuesday (of course). Another day that is really gaining traction is Hot Wing Friday (yes, please). The hot bar always includes a vegan option, and they are sure to accommodate dietary restrictions. This dedication to culinary inclusivity applies to the whole store as they carry a range of products that tailor to dietary restrictions including gluten-free.
When Tony used the words “full-service” to describe Hub-City Co-Op, he was not using them lightly. The Co-Op is also a composting center, and they donate all of their compost. They are looking at expanding their range of services even further with plans to start a meal program so you can pick up an entire meal kit. They are even planning on introducing a Happy Hour in 2018. They are also working on participating in more community events.
There are big things in the future for Hub City Co-Op, and Tony wants you to be a part of it. “Just come by and say hello. See what we’re all about. If you want to partner with your local farmers or get involved with your community, this is how you do it.” With a group of individuals who are as dedicated to their community as those at the Co-Op, you’ll soon be a regular.
For more information about Hub City Co-Op and how you can get involved visit their website here.