Over 40 Years as Rochester’s Food Co-op

The Food Store at the Genesee Co-op on Monroe Avenue

We’re Rochester’s first and only cooperatively-owned natural products retail grocer. We opened in 2001, but our history spans more than 40 years, beginning with the Genesee Co-op Natural Foodstore in 1968.

The Genesee Food Co-op evolved into what would become the Food Store at the Genesee Co-op on Monroe Avenue, which was situated on the bottom floor of an old fire station. Though it was not an actual cooperatively-owned store, it held many of the same values and was the first grocery stores to exclusively offer natural, healthy, and organic food to Rochester shoppers.

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Community-built

Abundance Cooperative Market first came into being in 1998, when a group of employees from the Food Store at the Genesee Co-op on Monroe Avenue (which was not a co-op) decided to set up Rochester’s first retail cooperative grocery store. These Rochesterians, our founders, were tireless advocates for the benefits a food co-op would bring to their community. Their first goal towards realizing their vision was to raise money for the purchase of a retail space. They raised $50,000 in the first two years, but twice that amount was needed. While they campaigned, one of the co-opers, Peggy Rosenthal, set up a small buyers’ club that operated from a storefront on Caroline Street in Rochester’s South Wedge neighborhood. A vote within the group was held for a name–they chose Abundance Buyers’ Club.

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Rochester’s first food co-op opens

After a long search and lot of sweat, the Abundance Buyers’ Club found an old car maintenance facility on 62 Marshall Street that looked like the perfect place to open a retail store. Abundance Cooperative Market welcomed its first shopper on April 3, 2001. We even remember her name: Liz Litwiller.

Abundance’s first shareholders were committed to making the store work. They did countless tasks–from carpentry and electrical fitting to getting the word out in the Rochester community about the new store–to make that first day of business possible. The Abundance Grand Opening was held on Earth Day, 2001. Then Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson and County Legislator Bill Benet spoke to everyone who came to celebrate the momentous occasion.

Today’s Abundance Food Co-op was realized by people in Rochester who wanted change: healthier food and a better, more sustainable food system. Today, shareholders, shoppers, and staff alike are ever grateful for their vision and work.

Abundance Food Co-op: Our move to the South Wedge

Abundance is now on the cusp of making a move to a new home at 571 South Avenue, in the South Wedge. Stay tuned for more history in progress as we continue to thrive and grow as Rochester’s only community-owned grocery store.