Officials, Lenders, Community Activists Cheer Opening of Cooperative Grocery Store
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AMBLER, PA, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 — Weavers Way Ambler was officially opened Friday with a gala ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Co-op store, attended by local officials, lenders, the Weavers Way Board of Directors and dozens of staff and delighted Ambler and Ambler-area residents.
“I think perhaps to the casual passerby, this might look like the official dedication of a grocery store,” said Weavers Way General Manager Jon Roesser in his opening remarks. “But the truth is that this is the official dedication of the manifestation of so much hard work in cooperative economics."
“The members of the Ambler Food Co-op, which is now part of Weavers Way, really do represent the cooperative model at its finest,” he said. “These are neighbors who identified a common need and pooled their resources to meet that need. Rather than wait for some out-of-town chain to come along and give them a grocery store, they said, 'Our town needs a grocery store. Let’s make it happen ourselves’. And that’s what they did, and that’s what we have.”
Roesser thanked the lenders who helped fund the $4.3 million project — PNC Bank, The Reinvestment Fund, Ambler Savings Bank, the Montgomery County Development Corporation, and especially the more than 300 Weavers Way members who provided the single largest source of financing with a $1.5 million in member loans.
Chris Hill, president of the Weavers Way Board, also lauded the people of Ambler for their ability to coalesce around a community need and fulfill it. Referring to the grassroots fundraising efforts that led to the restoration of the Ambler Theatre in 2007, he said, “I feel like Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill, the other community partners in this enterprise, have a lot to learn from you guys."
Hill teamed up with Ambler Store Manager Kathryn Worley to sever the giant red ribbon with a pair of prop scissors. On hand as honored guests and official witnesses were state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, all three Montgomery County commissioners — Joe Gale, Valerie Arkoosh and Ken Lawrence — Ambler Mayor Jeanne Sorg, members of the Ambler Borough Council and former Ambler Food Co-op President Kathleen Casey.
Worley said she was pleased with the support the store has received from the community.
“We’ve had people come in, and they’re crying, because they’re so excited that the store finally opened,” she said. “We’ve already made lots of new friends, and I’m just so happy to be here.”
Lawrence, vice chair of the board of commissioners, lives in Plymouth Township, but plans to visit the store regularly. “I think this is fantastic for Ambler and the residents of Ambler, but also for Montgomery County,” he said. “I know this is desperately needed here, so I’m glad the county could be a part of making this happen.”
Bernadette Dougherty, an Ambler resident and former Ambler Food Co-op outreach coordinator, took note of the effort that made the new location a reality. “You know that expression, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’? Well, this took a village and a half,” she said. “The folks from Ambler Food Co-op and the people from Weavers Way formed such a wonderful village, and got this beautiful store opened. And when people come in today and they start to clap, you know we did a good job.”
The store, Weavers Way’s third, opened for business Oct. 11 in a former Bottom Dollar store at 217 E. Butler Ave. in the borough of Ambler. Renovations, managed by Delaware County builder W.S. Cumby, began in early May. The member-owned Weavers Way stores are open to all and offer a range of high-quality products, with an emphasis on local, sustainable and organic; the Ambler location features a café area, an expanded prepared-foods kitchen, a full-service meat and seafood department, and an extensive selection of bulk foods, pet supplies, wellness, health and cruelty-free beauty products.