The Co-op’s history began in 1973, when ten people from the Vegetarian Club at Rutgers founded a buying club to supply high-quality, bulk vegetarian food to their membership. For five years, this buying club operated from one member’s garage near George Street, offering a superior alternative to what local supermarkets were offering. Some of these buying club members are still active in the Co-op today!
This buying club had been founded with the specific intent of becoming a food cooperative. After five years in operation, they had amassed the resources to do so; on April 26th 1978, they filed papers to form a corporation called The George Street Co-op, Inc., and they began renting a tiny retail space at 285 George Street. 11 dedicated members comprised the new Co-op’s initial Board of Trustees.
The Co-op quickly thrived in its new retail storefront, selling to the general public. Still operating as an all-volunteer organization, it soon expanded into the space next door. Even now it continued to grow, until even these two storefronts couldn’t contain it.
It was clear that the Co-op needed its own permanent space. The Co-op began charging a special markup on every purchase, the proceeds from which were invested in a special Building Fund.
After several years, the Building Fund had finally gotten enough funds to let the Co-op to purchase its own space. In May 1988, the Co-op moved to its current location at 89 Morris Street. Many Co-op members remember that moving day: A huge bucket brigade stretched one and a half blocks between the old and new locations. Hour after hour, sweating volunteers lugged the old store’s products and equipment over to their new home. The Co-op has remained in this location ever since.