Grocery shopping is about to change in Gainesville.

The Citizens Co-op finally opened its doors last week. Located at 435 S. Main St., this grand opening has been long awaited.

For three and a half years, co-founder Elizabeth Nesbit, along with friend and finance manager Gretchen McIntyre, their families and the community have been working to open a cooperative grocery store.

Starting from scratch, the Citizens Co-op raised more than $200,000 and accumulated more than 700 members and co-owners, Nesbit said.

Members of the Citizens Co-op have several benefits, some of which include access to monthly sale items and a portion of the profits at the end of the year.

A lifetime membership costs $100, and students can pay in four installations of $25.

The store houses a variety of items and departments including produce, dairy, meat and seafood, bulk, teas and spices, and health and beauty.

Nesbit became inspired to open a co-op when she went traveling with her family and found that cooperative grocery stores provided a wealth of community information and fresh food.

"I wanted to establish a place where people can come hang out, feel welcome, learn about public events and eat well," she said.

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(1) comment

mk

Love it. I hope they stay true to their focus on featuring local products -- like honey, cheese, bread, baked goods -- and local produce. We don't really need another natural food store stocked to the hills with packaged boxes of stuff like hodgson's mill organic milled flax seed. The local aspect is what will make this store unique.

I'm thrilled that they have so much community support and raised such money: it speaks to the power of the local foods movement. Publix/Fresh Market have zero commitment to buying local when it comes to produce; Ward's is more admirable, but their organic selection is pretty sad. A store featuring local items, with regular operating hours, would be a great asset, and while it might reduce traffic at the multiple farmer's markets around town, that is not a bad thing, plus I assume all those sellers will be encouraged to sell their goods at the Co-Op, too.

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