Elizabeth Nesbit and Gretchen McIntyre: Spirit of Gainesville nominee
Published: Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 5:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 5:28 p.m.
After five years of dedicated work, Elizabeth Nesbit and Gretchen McIntyre have realized their dream in the opening and operation of Citizen's Co-op, a community owned co-operative storefront specializing in local organic produce and healthy products with low environmental impact. The Co-op is democratically controlled by its members, currently numbering 1500. While anyone can shop there, members are eligible for discounts and profit sharing.
About Elizabeth Nesbit and Gretchen McIntyre
Occupation: Elizabeth Marketing, Gretchen Financial Manager
Years in Gainesville: 30 + each
Spouse: Gretchen - Wes Hogan
Children: Elizabeth - 2, Gretchen - 1
Liz and Gretchen have raised all capital through memberships and member-investors, with zero debt financing, and have created a self-help organization that provides education and training services to the community. They also sponsor community services such as a food film series, education and outreach workshops, a garden bike tour of downtown Gainesville, the development of a community garden in the Porters neighborhood, and many other affiliated programs in the community.
With the help of 40 volunteers, the Co-op focuses on sustainability, providing support to local organic farmers and producers, maintaining transparency to its customers, and providing employment for 12 people at progressive wage. The Co-op now offers a dedicated and reliable market to area producers, vendors and food entrepreneurs to be able to sell their goods in a supportive marketplace. The Co-op also offers a Sunday Local Market in their adjacent courtyard for vendors to sell their goods directly to the customer, maintaining additional profits in each vendor's pocket.
Liz and Gretchen have donated hundreds of hours of their time to bring this valuable resource to our community while placing the ownership and governance of the Co-op in the hands of its members. Gretchen continues to maintain a role in the business as the finance manager and aims to sustain current operations and improve upon and expand the Co-op Market into a long-term, viable centerpiece to downtown Gainesville living.
Submitted by Lucian Kragiel