Honest Weight exits effort to open grocery in Schenectady's downtown – Times Union

Honest Weight Food Co-op has told its members that it is no longer in discussions to take part in the operation of a grocery store in downtown Schenectady. 
SCHENECTADY — Honest Weight Food Co-op will not be part of an effort to open a downtown grocery store, telling its members that the organization and Schenectady’s Electric City Food Co-op have ended months of discussions.
“Ultimately, we did not share a common vision,” Honest Weight’s board of directors wrote in a Thursday letter to its members.
For nearly a year, Honest Weight and the Schenectady start-up explored scenarios to open a full-scale food market. The effort seemed to show promise but differences started to surface in November over Honest Weight’s practice of allowing members of the co-op to work for discounts on groceries. At the time, Electric City leaders downplayed the concern.
Electric City Food Co-op acknowledged the two were not seeing eye-to-eye on the use of member-owners to staff the Schenectady site and the letter Honest Weight sent makes clear that was a factor in the decision to end talks.
Honest Weight says Electric City plans to work with National Cooperative Grocers on the effort to build a Schenectady store, an idea that’s been discussed in the city for years. Based in Minnesota, National Cooperative Grocers works with retail food co-ops around the country.
A number of Schenectady neighborhoods, including Hamilton Hill and Mont Pleasant, lack a full-service grocery store, a situation critics describe as “food apartheid.” 
For produce, residents either rely on the yearlong Schenectady Greenmarket; a county-run market on Thursdays; or travel to supermarkets in other neighborhoods. 
Honest Weight formed a joint exploratory committee in February to look into the feasibility of opening a grocery store in connection with the Electric City Food Co-op, a move backed by Honest Weight’s members in a vote. While the Schenectady startup said last year it was premature to speculate on the potential collapse of the talks, they felt they could still operate a store without Honest Weight’s involvement.
Officials with Honest Weight and Electric City could not be reached for immediate comment.
Mike Goodwin has been a stock broker, garbage man, and a house painter. He has been a journalist since 1995 and the Times Union has been his home since 2002. As a city desk editor, he’s on the front lines of newsgathering for the Capital Region’s newspaper. Think you have an interesting story? Contact him at mgoodwin@timesunion.com or 518-454-5465.


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