Rethinking The Park Slope Food Coop

I have written about the Park Slope Food Coop in the past.  From a strictly economic perspective (not considering the draconian penalties, long lines, or the cult-like demeanor of some members) I decided that the savings gained from shopping at the Coop was not worth the 2 hours and 45 minutes.  But I based this on a” back of the envelope” estimates on how much a family might save every month by shopping at the Coop.

But today the Park Slope Patch had a very nice article comparing the price of 20 items at five Park Slope stores: Back to The Land, Key Food on 5th, Met Food on 7th, the Park Slope Food Coop, and Union Market. Among some no brainers, like don’t buy prosciutto at Met Foods, there was a lot if interesting tidbits, like Back to the Land  is cheaper than Key Food. But most interesting was that the average item at the Food Coop was $1.32 less than Back to the Land, the next cheapest store per item.

Although this was hardly a scientific study, it did give me a metric I did not have before.  With fees and working 71.5 hours a year (2 adults) at minimum wage, the first year at the Food Coop will cost you $768 your first year.  With an average savings of $1.32 an item, if you shop every other week and get 25 items each week, you’d save $858 a year, a net gain of 90 bucks! And you’d get $340 in saving each year after that (once you “pay off” the $250 in fees.)

I’m still not sure I’m ready for the Food Coop (do all members really have to wear matching Nike sneakers, or is that just a rumor?) but knowing the real savings might ease my mind when I’m wearing that day glow Food Coop vest.

My Calculations

Hours/Week number of adults Hours worked per year Min. Wage What it costs you to work at the Food Coop (plus $250 in “fees”)
2.75 2 71.5 $7.25 $518.38
Number of items Average Savings per item # of Shops per year Savings per year
25 1.32 26 $ 858.00
Net gain $ 339.63

2 thoughts on “Rethinking The Park Slope Food Coop

  1. I asked the author of the article in the Patch how could Back to the Land be that much cheaper than Key Food. She replied that the items that Back to the Land did not carry, which were left out of the price comparison, were all expensive items. She agreed that the comparison could be redone with only items that all of the stores carried in common. I don’t know if she will, but if she does, I will post a further reply. I am one of the coordinators, as well as the produce buyer at Park Slope Food Coop, and when I did my own market basket comparison, the coops prices were about 40% lower. Key Food was much cheaper than Back to the Land. For a price survey to be valid, the results must be derived from comparing identical items!

    • I agree, and I was surprised at how much cheaper Back to the Land was than Key Food. While its not exactly apples and oranges, it is certainly comparing apples to Esashi apples. (And if you compare The Coop to Key Food, then you are looking at even bigger savings.)

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