On June 9th, 2016, Three Rivers Market’s Board of Directors and General Manager visited Weaver Street Market, a consumer and worker cooperative in Carrboro, North Carolina. The purpose of our trip was to learn more about “hybrid” or “solidarity” membership structures. Weaver Street was the first consumer grocery cooperative in the United States to create and successfully implement this hybrid governance structure since 1988. What this means is that Weaver Street, unlike most grocery co-ops, has two membership classes: consumers (shoppers) and workers.
We were curious: what does a hybrid structure imply in terms of long-term sustainability, in terms of board structure and organization, and in terms of general care and investment on the part of co-op owners?
To explore these questions, we timed our trip so that we could attend a Weaver Street Board meeting. Weaver Street’s Board of Directors is comprised of the General Manager and a mix of elected and appointed directors from their two member classes: consumers and workers. They also have a professional meeting facilitator.
From this trip to Weaver Street Market, we learned that this hybrid membership model works very well for them – worker-owners felt invested in the co-op and were well represented on the Board. We also learned a bit about what it takes to run more than one store successfully.
We also took the opportunity to explore Weaver Street’s stores and food house. Weaver Street Market runs three stores, with plans to open a fourth. Their flagship store is in Carrboro, North Carolina.
The Carrboro store sits next to a beautiful, large, outdoor area with plenty of room for seating and experiencing multiple music events such as Jazz Brunches and “Music on the Green,” a locally-organized set of outdoor concerts.
Weaver Street Market also owns and operates a “food house” that is part food hub (for food distribution and preparation), part bake house, and part offices.
If you’d like to read more about Weaver Street Market, you can go to their website. Better yet, pay them a visit!