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East End Food Co-op considers expansion into other Pittsburgh markets

The East End Food Co-op (EEFC) is currently involved in a major market research study of Allegheny County. The EEFC’s current location at 7516 Meade St. in Point Breeze has been in business since 1986 and does about $7.5M in annual sales. “Our store is successful, but its size and lack of adequate parking have prompted discussions about where to go from here,” says Rob Baran, general manager. “I initially considered moving the current store to a larger location but a cost analysis showed it would be just as expensive to open a second location and the potential for profit was much greater with two stores.”

Funded by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the market study will specifically focus on Lawrenceville and Carnegie but will also analyze potential locations throughout the city. “We’re at a point now where we are committed to expansion, but we want to be sure about the markets we enter into,” says Baran. “Carnegie has a lot of potential with its proximity to 79 and 279, because not only do with have members in Green Tree and Mt. Lebanon, but West Virginia and Ohio too.”

The EEFC is also engaged in conversations with city and state officials about a new model of smaller convenience based stores for under-served neighborhoods in need of local, healthy groceries.

“Our growth is part of a national trend.  The National Cooperative Grocers Association, which has 110 members with 140 locations, actually outgrew Whole Foods this year. Co-ops have a solid business model and our success benefits the whole community.”

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Writer: Lauren Urbschat
Source: Rob Baran, General Manager, East End Food Co-op

Photograph copyright Brian Cohen
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