BUSHWICK – A member of the Bushwick Food Coop walking by the space in the wee hours of the morning on July 3rd discovered the devastating fire – which is estimated to have started around 3:00 am. While the direct cause of the fire is still being investigated, it looks like the small cooperative, which is open to the general public, will be closed for several months and could use a bit more support.
The coop is inclusive, and like the Flatbush Food Coop, allows non – members to shop as well. After almost a decade in business, it transferred to an ownership model last year, said Kathryn Johnson, who is a member and owner, and the co-chair of the coop’s communications committee.
“If you become an owner of the coop, then you get to shop at owner prices, which is a much lower mark-up than the public markup. But, we are open to the public all the time,” Johnson explained to Bkylner over the phone. The coop currently has 460 owners.
In the days after the fire, the coop held a sale to get rid of some of their remaining inventory and may hold another once they know what is left in their stock. Two days ago they started a GoFundMe page, looking to raise $60,000 to help rebuild – a larger fundraising event may also be in the future.
“So, the first part [in fundraising was] the GoFundMe page, and then we’re also trying to figure out if we can plan a big fundraising event to bring together a lot of the community that has offered help, but we haven’t really been able to take advantage of that help yet,” Johnson said.
“There’s been a lot of people that have reached out. We have a lot of cooperative owners who work with restaurants or venues or artist spaces in Bushwick and we just haven’t had a way to really mobilize all that support yet. So, we’re hoping to put together a big fundraising event to leverage all that support and goodwill.”
Another source of support for the Bushwick Food Cooperative has been other food coops in the borough, including the Park Slope Food Coop, which donated money to the cause, and the Greene Hill Food Coop, which opened their usually members-only cooperative to the members of Bushwick’s cooperative in the days following the fire. The Cypress Hill CSA (community supported agriculture group) also offered to reopen membership for the remainder of the summer to the Bushwick members.
The scope of generosity has reached much farther than Brooklyn, as well. “There are seven cooperative principles, and one of them is cooperation among coops,” Johnson said. “We’ve seen a lot of support from cooperatives, not only in Brooklyn, but Weavers Way in Philadelphia – all over. That’s been one of the best things about the situation, that while it’s really hard and it’s gonna be a tough road for us, we have a really incredible network to lean on right now.”
UPDATE: The Bushwick Food Coop will have another fire sale this Thursday, the 18th. Non-members can shop at up to 15% discounts on items available, according to a release. The sale will be held at The Loom, Shop 104, located at 1087 Flushing Avenue.