Syracuse Cooperative Market opens new location in Salt City Market

Syracuse Cooperative Market opens in Salt City Market

The shelves of the co-op are stocked with affordable, fresh produce for downtown and neighboring residents.
Published: April 19, 2021 | Updated: April 20th, 2021 at 3:19 pm
Gianna Prudente
Syracuse Cooperative Market is open and ready for business in Salt City Market. The co-op opened its second location downtown last Wednesday.

Downtown Syracuse welcomed its first full-service grocery store, Syracuse Cooperative Market, last week. After weeks of preparation, the co-op’s second location opened in Salt City Market on South Salina Street.

Jeremy DeChario, general manager at Syracuse Cooperative Market, said he’s been working on the expansion for three years.

“We kind of got together with the folks at the Salt City Market, and it seemed like this is really a great fit for us,” he said.

DeChario, who has worked at the co-op since 2010, said he’s been looking for an expansion project for about seven years, but the timing and opportunities were never right. With continued sales growth at the co-op’s current Kensington Road location, DeChario said he knew it was time to open another store.

“Really, at this point, it was just about serving a broader community in a more accessible way,” he said. “However that works is what we were looking for, and this project just seemed like a great fit for us.”

As a cooperative, the market is owned by community members who decide to opt-in, but anyone can purchase from the stores. The original Kensington Road location has operated since the 1970s, mainly serving the Westcott and University neighborhoods.

The co-op wants its downtown store to be accessible to all Syracuse communities, and with Salt City Market located next to a bus stop, DeChario said he believes it will achieve just that.

“Part of it was transit-oriented development,” he said. “Serving the new population in downtown is really important.”

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The shelves of Syracuse Cooperative Market are stocked with local produce, which has been significantly lacking in the downtown area. The co-op has expanded its product mix to carry both organic staples and a full conventional line of produce.

CJ Butler, marketing communications specialist at Salt City Market, said the co-op’s opening is a major accomplishment for the downtown area.

“For so many years, downtown residents haven’t had a place to get fresh food or get things that weren’t from a convenience store,” she said.

Butler said Salt City Market, which opened in January, always planned on having a grocery store.

“We recognize that downtown was severely lacking in fresh food,” she said. “We wanted to keep things mission-focused, and the biggest part of our mission is people and culture and creating a space where it’s for everyone’s benefit. The co-op really aligns with that in so many ways.”

Heather Schroeder, director of economic development at the Downtown Committee of Syracuse, said the co-op’s new location means people who live downtown and in adjacent neighborhoods can get everything they need within walking distance.

“Downtown is the geographic center of the city of Syracuse, but more than that, the intentional location of the co-op at this site was to border other neighborhoods and also be kitty-corner from the bus,” she said. “People from the near West Side, South Side, downtown and even eastern and northern neighborhoods adjacent to downtown, really have a full-service grocer within a mile of where they live.”

Butler said the downtown location will allow residents from different neighborhoods to interact.

“People on their commutes home can stop in and possibly interact with someone who lives in the Westcott area and, in another circumstance, they might have never gotten the chance to have a conversation,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing that we’re all kind of rooting for is to get people in here, having conversations and just getting our Syracuse community stronger.”

DeChario said the expansion is also an opportunity to develop its produce lines and further support local farmers and producers.

“Making sure that we have accessible fresh foods is very important to us, which is one of the reasons why we were able to expand our produce to carry both the organic staples that were known for and also a full conventional line of produce,” he said.

Mary Foster, grocery lead at the co-op, said she’s been bringing in new products and seeing what’s trending, but also looking at local purveyors.

“So far, we’re basing it off the other location as we get going,” she said. “But I think it’s gonna be a different atmosphere eventually. We’ll listen to customer comments and see what people are looking for and why.”

Schroeder said the downtown store is diversifying their product mix and their price points to be both accessible and affordable.

“Something I like to say a lot is that downtown is for everyone,” she said. “For us to have a grocery store in the middle of our neighborhood, where everybody can shop, it really just makes life so much easier for everyone who lives in and around downtown.”

DeChario said he hopes the downtown location becomes a hub for all Syracuse communities.

“One of my favorite things about working in the grocery industry is that everybody eats,” he said. “Being in the food business is very exciting. Especially in the co-op, not only do we nourish people through food, but we also nourish communities.”

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is the Life & Style Lead Producer for The NewsHouse.