The Renaissance Community Co-op grocery store at 2517 Phillips Ave. announced today that it would close its doors on Friday, Jan. 25 after a little more than two years in business.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “It’s very disappointing news, but it ‘s still a great story of that neighborhood getting together and doing something that was really phenomenal.”
Vaughan added, “I don’t think this means we give up. The neighborhood needs to be congratulated and uplifted for their effort.”
The Renaissance Co-op received a grant of $250,000 from the city to get started and recently received a $25,000 grant from Guilford County.
Vaughan noted that the grocery store business has tight profit margins. She said the fact that the area had been without a grocery store for 18 years which seems like it should be a plus was also detrimental because it’s difficult to get people to change their shopping habits, even if a new store is more convenient.
In the realm of unintended consequences after the Renaissance Co-op opened the city finally finished the long promised Nealtown Road connector which connects Nealtown Road with East Cone Boulevard and made the Walmart on Cone Boulevard more convenient to the Phillips Avenue neighborhood.
The Renaissance Co-op was started in 2013 with an announced goal of opening in 2014. At times it appeared that the co-op would be unable to raise the $2 million needed to open a grocery store, but the supporters persevered and in Nov. 2016 held the grand opening of the Renaissance Community Co-Op which eventually grew to have over 1,300 members.
City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “I had heard rumors that they were still struggling. I went to shop there as much as I could. They really do have the best meat in town.” And she added, “Most of the time when I shopped there were only one or two other shoppers in the store which worried me.”
She said, “It’s really sad for the community members who put their heart and soul into this.”
The original business plan for the co-op called for it to average a little over $10,000 a day in sales which some local business leaders said was an extremely optimistic goal for a store of that size in that neighborhood.
Vaughan said that the city has not given up on having a grocery store in that shopping center and it was possible someone else could move into that location and make it work.
Vaughan noted that the Renaissance Shops the shopping center where the co-op is located and which the city has also financially supported is doing well and has added a Cone Health Clinic as a tenant.