Lexington Coop » About the Co-op

Our History

The transitions of the sixties in our culture reached far and wide, even into our farming and food access; putting many family farmers at risk and out of business. New farming methods began to threaten the quality of our foods and within the decade, food cooperatives began to spring up all around the country. People wanted whole, healthy foods sold through a new, cooperative -not corporate, business model.

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Co-op opens as a retail store with the motto Food for People, Not for Profit.  All work is done by member-owners. All decisions are made by member-owners at monthly meetings.  Financing is provided to start Lexington, North Buffalo and Allentown Co-ops by the UB Student Activity fee.


Co-op hires first paid staff to coordinate member workers. These “Coordinators” report to the membership.


Co-op moves from 226 Lexington to 810 Elmwood Ave.  Moves back to Lexington 2 years later.


Member-owners lend $40,000 to finance a remodel of the store at 230 Lexington.  In the Tuna Wars of ’83, member-owners spend a year debating whether the co-op should carry tuna


Co-op restructures to become a representative democracy with a one-time $80 investment and a 15 member Board of Directors.  Jenny Bruce hired as the first General Manager.


Planning begins for the eventual move to Elmwood with 13 member-owner forums over 2 years.  Process results in a vision for a co-op that is on Elmwood with a deli, parking and natural light.


Co-op moves to 807 Elmwood on July 27th.  Financed with $560,000 in loans from owners, the 2nd largest loan campaign among co-ops nationwide.  Sales and member-ownerships double.


After 2 years of conversation with owners, Board approves our BIG Direction, the co-op’s long term plan to bring our values to life by fostering a thriving co-op in every community that wants one

1678 Hertel Store


Second store opens at 1678 Hertel Ave!  Financed with $2.1 million in investments from member-owners

Our Big Direction

Our board created a set of “ends statements which define how the world will be better because of the Co-op’s values and work. We interpreted these values as “happy, knowledgeable people”, “local, sustainable food”, “co-op economy”, and “sustainability”. These values define our purpose and guide our decisions. Through our everyday actions, we feel we are edging the world closer to our values.

And we’re not satisfied. We want to grow the Co-op to create MORE happy, knowledgeable people, support MORE local farmers & producers, have MORE grocery dollars returned to the local economy, and become MORE sustainable in our practices. That’s where our BIG Direction comes in.

From owner forums in 2011, a forty year vision emerged: of a thriving co-op in every community that wants one, Lexington or otherwise. This vision has caught hold as a strategic direction for our work now and in the future. We call it our BIG Direction– our plan for creating more good in the world by bringing our values to life.

Through our everyday actions, we feel we are edging the world closer to our values.

Our Commitment to Sustainability

Sustainability is a key piece of our co-op.

Sustainability is a key piece of our co-op. It’s part of our Big Direction, and a consideration in the decisions we make every day. From packaging choices to building materials, we’re finding the best options to meet our owners’ needs and honor our responsibility to the environment. How are we doing it?

  • Buying Local: Last year, 59 cents of every dollar spent at the co-op was returned to the local economy, and we purchased from over 120 local farmers and producers.
  • Organics: Organic food production reduces chemical fertilizer and pesticide runoff into our streams, rivers and lakes, protects farm workers from disease, and grows healthy, nutrient-dense soil for future generations of farmers. Our produce section is over 60% organic, and our store is 25% organic overall. We’re proud to make clean, healthy food available to our community.
  • Clean Energy: The co-op chooses renewable electricity sources including hydropower, biomass energy, and wind power through the Energy Cooperative of America, Inc.
  • Green Design: The store you shop in has a triple insulated roof, and LED lights for all of our fixtures and refrigeration cases. We use low VOC paints, and natural cleaning products throughout the building. We have 5” of building insulation (that’s 2” more than required!) and heat produced by our refrigeration preheats our hot water tank. Bright windows reduce our lighting needs and make our store feel nicer.
  • Thoughtful Choices: Lexi’s Kitchen offers recyclable and compostable packaging for our prepared foods, and our registers use exclusively BPA free receipt paper. We sell over 600 SKUs of bulk foods, eliminating the need for extraneous packaging.
  • Reduce Waste: The co-op recycles almost 50% of our solid waste. Our cardboard recycling dumpster runneth over, and is picked up four times weekly. Food scraps from our kitchen, produce department and employee break room are all composted by local community groups and reused as soil the following year.

We’re not finished. Our goal to be a net zero business by 2050 is a part of our BIG Direction.