The Triad Buying Co-Op, Winston-Salem, NC

The idea for a food cooperative in Winston-Salem began in the 1970s with a small group of people who wanted to purchase organic and sustainably grown food, not readily available locally. They met in the kitchen of one of the group members, ordered in bulk and divided the products among themselves. This was a buying club, which began as so many co-ops have.  

Soon, the group moved into a more formal space: first into the YWCA, then to a building on Burke Street and then to an old grocery store on Green Street becoming Winston-Salem’s first storefront co-op. 

The Green Street Co-op dissolved in 1983. In the fall of 1986, the co-op was revived as a buying club and operated out of Peacehaven Baptist Church. In 2003, the co-op moved to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Robinhood Road and substantially increased its membership. At that time, the club was incorporated as an entity, created bylaws and a Board of Directors, and became the Triad Buying Co-op Inc. (TBC).   

It continued in the UU location until it became unavailable. The next stop was the Bahnson Co. building on South Marshall Street, where a number of small businesses had found a welcoming space, named West Salem Square. Members rehabbed an area in the basement of the building, cleaning, painting and constructing the unconverted space.  

In 2009, with the help of Mitchell Britt, the co-op started a farmers market in Krankies Coffee, the first producers-only market with organic and sustainably grown products in Winston-Salem. Every vendor who applied to sell at the market was visited and their practices verified. The Krankies Farmer’s Market was a success and moved across the street beside the Nissen building on a cobbled stone street, where it was renamed Cobblestone Market and is still going strong today in another location under new management. The TBC continued to operate in West Salem Square until 2016 when the building was sold and all the small businesses had to leave. The TBC was used to change and bravely set out to find a new venue. The group soon found a small building on Brenner Street in downtown Winston. Their stay there lasted until 2019, when the owners decided to upgrade the property, forcing the co-op to find yet another home. After looking at a number of sites, all in need of extensive work, it was invited to move into Acadia Foods where Owners Jon Engel and Jessica McClure ran a restaurant and coffee shop. They also had a small grocery store and wanted someone else to run it so that they could concentrate on their main business. After 40 years as a buying co-op, the TBC became a storefront co-op once again.     

TBC is now operating the co-op and retail store in a vibrant and welcoming environment, offering to the public all of the products that it purchases for members. This includes local products from Camino Bakery, Dewey’s Bakery, Massey Creek, Harmony Ridge, Mill River, Joyce Farms, Red Clay Gourmet, Piedmont Fresh, Homeland Creamery, Charlie’s Soap, Old Mill Guilford, Lindley Mills, Happy Dirt and more. Most non-local items come from United Natural Foods and Frontier Natural Products Co-op.   

Since 2015, TBC has been using member-donated dollars to buy food for local food pantries. Since arriving at Acadia Foods in 2019, store produce discards and the restaurant’s kitchen waste have been composted in local gardens. 

Becoming a member of the TBC gives one ownership in a member-run organization dedicated to increasing the availability and demand for more local and sustainable products in this area. Thanks to the Acadia Foods store, local farmers and producers have another market for their products and co-op members and shoppers make a bigger economic impact in our community.

Triad Buying Buying Co-op

Acadia Foods

228 West Acadia Avenue

Winston-Salem, NC 27127

tbcoop.org

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