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'Sense of community': Weaver Street Market gives back to local organizations

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Carrboro and Chapel Hill residents enjoy a nice day at Weaver Street Market on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.

Weaver Street Market, which was founded in 1987 and has locations in Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough and Raleigh, is a grocery store that aims to be "for the community" and "by the community."

The store sources products that are sustainably produced by small, local and cooperative producers.

Weaver Street Market is a hybrid co-op, meaning it is both consumer- and worker-owned. Both customers and employees have the opportunity to purchase a share of the company, meaning they may vote to elect board members.

Portia Hackett, Weaver Street Market's digital marketer and social media specialist, said the Board of Directors decides where the co-op is headed in terms of mission and focus, ensuring the company stays in line with its values. She said they focus on investing in local businesses, food banks and local products.

“Our big focus is not on profits,” Hackett said. “We actually take a smaller margin, enough obviously to be able to run the business and their employees and everything, but we use it to invest back into the community.”

In 2020, the E.Q.U.I.T.Y. Alliance was created when four Black employees — Hackett, Allanah Hines, Breana Staley and Jameson Fuller — came together to target underrepresentation in Weaver Street Market. 

“We didn’t see ourselves reflected on the shelves with the vendors, we didn’t see ourselves in terms of reflected in management or the organizations we were supporting,” Hackett said. 

She said many change and fundraising ideas come from Weaver Street Market employees, and customers can submit feedback about what organizations they would like to see the company support.

Hackett said Weaver Street Market has raised money for both food- and non-food-based diverse organizations by asking customers to round up to the nearest dollar on transactions. She also said the store has raised money for the North Carolina Black Alliance, North Carolina Asian Americans Together and Asian Focus NC.

The Carrboro Weaver Street Market location has raised more than $2,300 since March 1 for TABLE, a local food delivery service for children in need.

Jacob Garwin works as a cashier at the Carrboro location of Weaver Street Market. He said the round-up program has been well-received by the community and has raised a lot of money. 

“Knowing that it’s staying in the community is important,” Weaver Street Market customer Eric Lee Hardt said. “I think people will be more adept to give, you know, helping people in their community.”

Lee Hardt recently moved to North Carolina and said Weaver Street Market offers a great community and a "beautiful" environment.

“I feel really spoiled with this kind of climate, sense of community and a place that anybody can feel comfortable to relax,” he said. “You can come here to work or write or think or eat or socialize or anything.”

Weaver Street Market customer Danielle Fenton described the store as an eclectic meeting place with many kinds of people. She said she was a frequent customer before the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

“I’m looking at it post-COVID, and it's a little less of what it was, but it's kind of getting back,” she said. 

Hackett said during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the food bars were shut down and the indoor and outdoor seating was closed. She said some pandemic practices, such as online shopping and curbside pickup, have become permanent fixtures at Weaver Street Market.

Fenton said she remembers attending an open poetry reading at Weaver Street Market prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Hackett said Weaver Street Market used to have wine shows, co-op fairs and music on the lawn. She also said the programs are going to be brought back this spring, with specific dates coming soon.

@ZoeWerner356

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com 

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