Maximizing Investment in (and from) the Community

Sustainable Business Network, February 2018

Money spent at local businesses circulates through local economies more than money spent at non-local businesses. As such, local businesses are the engine of a resilient local economy. They also have a better track record of making the positive social and environmental decisions that impact our communities.

However, it is not always as easy to reconcile the more impactful choice with the easy choice. Our busy schedules sometimes make momentary convenience outweigh long term future impacts, especially when we have entire superstores nearby that carry nearly every item possible and Amazon who will you deliver to you at an almost creepy speed.

Mariposa: The Little Co-op that Could

University City District, January 2018

A recent frigid morning didn’t stop shoppers from making their way into Mariposa Co-op. The cooperative grocery store fills the building at 4824 Baltimore Avenue to bursting with farm-fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, bulk grains, nuts and pasta, high-quality meats and cheeses, and much more. 

‘The hallmark of activism is unity’ And other scenes from SustainPHL

Generocity, August 2017

It’s been a tough year for sustainability advocates in the United States, with the election of a president who named a climate change-denier to head the EPA and who pulled the country out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

But you wouldn’t know it at Thursday evening’s SustainPHL, the second annual soirée celebrating Philly’s sustainability community. Organized by Green Philly Company founder Julie Hancher, the event gives out awards to people and organizations working to make the city greener.

Mariposa Food Co-op hires first General Manager, Aj Hess

UC Review, April 2016

Up until 2014, Mariposa was one of four food co-ops nationwide to adhere to a collective management structure. However, the store has seen exponential growth since opening to the public and relocating to its current address in 2012. Over the past four years, membership has increased to over 2,000 members, retail space has increased five fold, and sales have increased 160%. Mariposa introduced new programming, such as Eating Healthy on a Tight Budget workshops and Co+op Basics, an everyday low price sales program. Hess will support the creation of a new management structure that supports the size and increasing sales of the store.

Mariposa Food Coop strives to be more accessible, expands its low-price program

West Philly Local, April 2016

Eating healthy on a budget can be a challenge, especially for lower income individuals and families. In an effort to increase the community’s accessibility to affordable healthy, local and sustainable foods, Mariposa, the cooperative grocery store located at 49th and Baltimore, has expanded Co+op Basics, an everyday low-price program.

Fikira Bakery bikes baked goods straight to Philly doors 

Philly Voice, February 2016

Over the past few years, pedal-powered delivery in Philadelphia has cycled way past the act of transporting an office memo on the quick.

These days, a quick phone call to an often youthful bike courier can yield you everything from a much-needed bowl of Dizengoff’s hummus to a bag full of dry-cleaned clothes. (Call up Caviar for the former, and Wash Cycle for the latter.) 

What’s a purchasing cooperative, and how could it increase local food access?

Generocity, November 2015

When businesses are run by the people served by them, the local economy is strengthened. At least, that’s the mentality behind cooperatives, or co-ops, businesses owned collectively by its customers, employees or both.

Philadelphia has several cooperative grocery stores, including two Weavers Way Co-op stores, Mariposa Food Co-op, Creekside Co-op and Swarthmore Co-op.

Co-op Member Profile: Bull Gervasi - Mariposa Food Co-op

Grid Magazine, September 2015

“I like talking to farmers about their work and seeing the seasons change through our produce selection,” says Bull Gervasi, facilities and produce department coordinator for Mariposa Foods, a cooperative grocery store in West Philadelphia.

Thinking outside the ballot box: exercising everyday democracy

Generocity, March 2015

Election season is an exciting time in a democratic society: you get to ask candidates your questions in public forums and they must answer them, or at least try to. You get to talk with your friends and neighbors about issues that are important to you. You get to evaluate multiple candidates on their ability to serve you and represent your needs, and then pick your favorite one.

Co-op Currents: The hidden history of interracial co-op organizing in Philadelphia

Generocity, February 2015

Recently, Drexel University professor Dr. Andrew Zitcer and I embarked on a research project to uncover the largely unknown history of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Federation, an association of 18 consumer food co-ops, many of them black-owned, which was active from roughly 1943 to 1952. It’s a fascinating history that still matters today. In honor of Black History Month, here’s a piece of what I’ve learned.

A look at Food Cooperatives

Generocity, July 2014

There are several kinds of cooperatives in Greater Philadelphia — housing co-ops, energy co-ops and credit unions, to name just a few — but food co-ops are perhaps the most well-known, in part due to the region’s growing local food and sustainability movements.

Mariposa Food Co-op creates fund to pay for low income members

Generocity, July 2014

The Mariposa Food Co-op relocated to Baltimore Avenue two years ago, and while the corridor is now among the most vibrant in the city, it is also not far from some of West Philadelphia’s poorest neighborhoods.

Market Driven: Mariposa Food Co-op expands its role in the community, along with its retail space

Grid Magazine, January 2014

Food co-ops are hardwired to work with others—other co-ops, other businesses, their neighbors. It’s part of their founding principles, their bylaws and their DNA. When Mariposa Co-op expanded to a nearby location after 40 years in business at 4726 Baltimore Ave., they quintupled in square footage, tripled their staff, doubled their membership and quadrupled their sales. But perhaps the most important expansion was their involvement in the community. 

Mariposa Food Co-op’s Social Justice Book Club Goes Beyond Just Groceries

Generocity, December 2013

Co-ops have a long history of commitment to social and economic justice, starting with the early industrial age when skilled tradesmen used them organize to their revival in the ’60s and ’70s. But as co-ops have become more popular and inclusive, how politics and co-ops mix is an open question.

Mariposa now accepting youth memberships

West Philly Local, June 2013

Neighborhood grocery store Mariposa Food Co-op with over 1,500 local members began accepting youth member applications last week. If you or some of your family members are between ages 14 and 17, this is a great opportunity for you/them to become a member-owner of a community-run business and to learn about the cooperative economy.

Philly Area Food Co-ops Hold Second Meeting on Potential Collaboration

Generocity, May 2013

Philadelphia-area food co-ops gathered for the first time to discuss developing closer organizational ties, including shared marketing strategies and purchasing power.

Creating a buzz for 14 Philadelphia Neighborhoods

Philadelphia Inquirer, April 2013

Mariposa Food Co-op is one of West Philly’s local businesses that are creating a new vibe in the neighborhood.

Mariposa Food Coop and Little Baby’s Ice Cream Announce Partnership for Construction Project

University City Review, April 2013

Mariposa Food Coop has formally announced a new partnership with Little Baby’s Ice Cream, a move that will bring fresh soft serve Ice Cream to West Philadelphia. The new construction project will link the Food Coop, in the Cedar Park section of West Philadelphia, and the Ice Cream company’s World Headquarters and manufacturing facility, located on the border of the East Kensington and Fishtown neighborhoods.

Mariposa to mark 1st anniversary at new location with week-long celebration

West Philly Local, March, 2013

Our friends over at Mariposa Food Co-op have had a fantastic year since they moved to their new location at 4824 Baltimore Ave last spring and to mark the first anniversary of the move the store is planning a full week of celebration that begins this Saturday, March 16.

Student Labor Action Project fights for food justice

The Daily Pennsylvanian, December, 2012

On Thursday, Penn’s SLAP took a powerful swing at injustice in the food industry. The Student Labor Action Project held a panel at Civic House, featuring experts from the food and labor justice movements.

“We want to talk about the intersections of labor and food justice,” said College junior Penny Jennewein, the event’s main organizer and a member of SLAP.


Grid Magazine, December 2012

Mariposa Co-op grew out of buying clubs that flourished in the 1970s. In the early ’80s, several groups merged, opening a storefront at 4726 Baltimore Avenue. The co-op has come a long way since then: currently 1,000 members strong, Mariposa has outgrown its original space. Now, with help from members—and a Community Design Collaborative grant—the co-op has finally secured a new home.

Bike corral installed in front of Mariposa

West Philly Local, November 2012

Mariposa’s new installment of bike corral.

Mariposa Food Co-op thrives in West Philadelphia

The Daily Pennsylvanian, November 2012

The Mariposa Food Co-op has taken flight as one of West Philadelphia’s only neighborhood grocery stores offering sustainable food.

Mariposa’s sales have more than tripled since it moved to a new retail space at 4824 Baltimore Ave. from 4726 Baltimore Ave. this past March. The co-op is expected to earn over $3 million in sales by March 2013, exceeding its previous projections by $1 million, financial manager and 2004 College graduate Dan Ohlemiller wrote in an email.

UC Review News Hour- WPEB 88.1 FM Mariposa Food Co-Op Grand Opening Celebration- Saturday!

University City Review News Hour, April 2012

Co-hosts, Nicole Contosta and Bob Christian discuss Grand Opening of Mariposa Food Coop’s new expanded location with Chakka Reeves, the Marketing & Outreach Coordinator at Mariposa.

Politicos, sales and samples at Mariposa’s Grand Opening this Saturday

West Philly Local, April 2012

Coverage on Mariposa’s grand opening!

Congressman Chaka Fattah To Speak At Mariposa Food Co-Op’s Grand Opening

University City Review, April 2012

Mariposa Food Co-op welcomes Congressman Chaka Fattah and other very special guests to its Grand Opening Ceremonies on Saturday, April 21st at 11am.

Mariposa and Common Market Work to Meet Fresh, Local Food Demand

Plan Philly, April 2012

West Philly’s Mariposa Food Co-op and the Common Market have grown together to meet the increasing demand for fresh and local food in Philadelphia.

Mariposa Food Co-op is Bigger, Better

Cedar Park Neighbors, March 2012

As of mid-February, Mariposa Food Co-op had raised $2.5 million. Just as impressive is the fact that $750,000 was raised from individuals — mostly members — and the incredible rate of member participation: 10% (over 100) of co-op members made a loan, 60% increased their member equity and 450 new members joined Mariposa in the past year alone. Countless member hours were committed to supporting the capital campaign.

West Philly Food Co-op Continues to Expand

Daily Pennsylvanian, March 2012

One food store in West Philadelphia is expanding its selection of sustainable food and customer base. Mariposa Food Co-op moved into a new retail store at 4824 Baltimore Avenue on March 17 from its old space just a block away.

Cedar Park: A New Location Creates Big Impact For Mariposa Co-op

Philadelphia Neighborhoods, March 2012

The new space for Mariposa Food Co-op is a welcoming option for Cedar Park residents. The store, which originally opened in 1971, moved to its new, spacious location last week and opened to the public on Saturday.

Mariposa Food Co-op New Store Preview

West Philly Local, March 2012

The construction of Mariposa Food Co-op‘s new store is complete. The new store at 4824 Baltimore Avenue is officially opening this Saturday, March 17 at 10 a.m. Check out this video preview with store manager Bull Gervasi.

Mariposa Food Co-op Wins Preservation Award

Greater Philadelphia Preservation Alliance, March 2012

Mariposa Food Co-op was one of the winners of the Greater Philadelphia Preservation Alliance’s 2012 Preservation Award for the renovation and adaptive reuse of their new location, the landmark 1923 Belmont Trust Company Building. The Alliance’s Preservation Achievement Awards luncheon will be held on May 8th and is an annual celebration of the individuals, organizations, businesses and projects that exemplify outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation throughout the region.

Congressman Fattah shows co-ops in Philly—and nationwide—some holiday love

Philadelphia Citypaper, December 2011

Local input from Philadelphia has been important in crafting this legislation,” Rep. Fattah told City Paper. “I have been inspired by the success of Mariposa [Food] Co-op in West Philadelphia and Weavers Way as it expands from its Mount Airy base. These are excellent examples of cooperatives done right. They also demonstrate the broader national potential for taking the cooperative movement to scale.

West Philly’s Mariposa Food Co-op Focuses on Outreach Along Baltimore Ave 

Philadelphia Weekly, November 2011

What is most impressive about the expansion project is not its cost or its size. It is the larger story of Baltimore Avenue being remade by the people who live and shop there, of neighbors working to fill the voids left in the commercial fabric of the city after decades of neglect and depopulation.

Mariposa Co-op Construction Update

Gardner/Fox Commercial Construction, November 2011

The Mariposa Coop construction continues with evidence of a new sidewalk ramp and stairs in progress at the front door.

Food co-ops on rise in Philly area, September 2011

Pam Seida browses the aisle at Mariposa Food Co-op in West Philadelphia, looking for tempeh bacon, which she insists is “yummy.” The space is cramped, but Seida, 44, has shopped here for a decade, since moving from Rosemont. And yes, she is delighted that a new building is under construction just one block away.

Embracing Growth in University City, September 2011

For years, [Mariposa] had only 200 members… But around 2004, membership exploded to 700 and managers began looking for a larger space.

Demo underway for Mariposa Food Co-op

Gardner/Fox Commercial Construction, September 2011

Mariposa Food Coop hired Gardner/Fox to fit-out their new facility at 4824 Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia.

Sustainable Saturdays in West Philadelphia Concludes with “Preserving the Harvest”

University City District, September 2011

Get an inside look at the new Mariposa Food Co-op during renovations. Mariposa has been providing its members access to healthy, locally-grown, and sustainably-produced food for 40 years.

UC Review News Hour: Mariposa Food Co-op Interview

UC Review,  June 2011

Co-Hosts Nicole Contosta and Bob Christian visit with Mariposa Board members, Mica Navarro Lopez and Jakey Greenberg about the recent ground breaking for it’s new expanded location and all it will have to offer the public.

Merriment at Mariposa’s groundbreaking ceremony

UC Review, June 2011

Over one hundred and fifty people filled the former bank that will soon house Mariposa’s new food market on 4824 Baltimore Avenue at the co-op’s official groundbreaking ceremony Monday, June 27th.

West Philadelphia co-op plans membership drive ahead of fall relocation 

WHYY Newsworks, June 2011

The Mariposa Food Co-op hopes to add more than 400 members between now and the fall. That’s when the store will open its new location at 48th Street and Baltimore Avenue.

West Philadelphia Community Grocery Store Moving To Larger Location

KYW Newsradio, June 2011

A community-owned grocery store in West Philadelphia is gaining some weight. Mariposa Food Co-op has been operating out of a 500-square foot West Philadelphia storefront since the early 1970′s, promoting healthy, locally-grown or otherwise sustainably-produced products.

A Celebration at Mariposa

West Philly Local, June 2011

A memorable scene unfolded on Baltimore Avenue yesterday as Mayor Michael Nutter and folks from the Mariposa Food Co-op stood arm-in-tattooed arm to celebrate the start of renovations to the co-op’s new home.

R5 Productions now matching donations for Mariposa Food Co-op’s expansion

The Key, WXPN,  May 2011

Bull Gervasi, Mariposa’s Project Manager, who really inspired us to start R5 and who is pretty much the reason we have shows at The First Unitarian Church, has been helping to run Mariposa Food Co-op in West Philly for years. Now he and all the members there are trying to renovate an old bank building on Baltimore Ave to make the store five times bigger and have a ton of space for more food, community events, roof garden, etc.

Mariposa Food Co-op Outlines New Store and Model

UC Review, May 2011

For the past forty years, the Mariposa Co-op has acted as one of the few healthy food alternative for West Philadelphia residents. However, if people wanted to shop there, then they had to become members. Also, due to the storefront’s limited amount of space, membership had reached its full capacity by the mid to late 2000’s. Now the co-op is changing that in it’s expansion.

Own a Grocery Store in West Philly: Here’s How

West Philly Local, April 2011

There aren’t too many chances these days to have a say in where you buy your food in West Philly. Actually, there may be only one chance. Mariposa Food Co-op launched a new membership campaign today that will provide that chance. 

Mariposa Co-op expansion: a few financial hurdles to overcome

UC Review, December 2010

For nearly forty years, the Mariposa co-op has given West Philadelphia residents the option of shopping for fresh, natural foods in their own backyards.

West Philly food co-op Mariposa expands, adds sustainability features

Flying Kite, November 2010

The property at 4726 Baltimore Avenue in West Philly was made to be a bank. With its stone columns and regal marblework, the building has housed many community banks and even a church over the years.

Mariposa food co-op gets new, bigger digs

Philadelphia Inquirer, November 2010

Mariposa, the West Philadelphia food co-op that focuses on food that’s healthy, local and sustainable, has grown so much that it’s moving to a bigger place. By next summer, the co-op plans to be in the landmark Belmont Trust Company Building, former home of Beulah Tabernacle Church. Mariposa has bought the building, which is at 4824 Baltimore Avenue.

Mariposa Food Coop is Getting Bigger

Purposeful Eating, November 2010

West Philly’s Mariposa Food Coop has announced that it will be moving down the street to expand to a space five times as big as it’s current location. The proposed plans for the new space is complete with sustainable construction—with bee hives and farming on the roof!

Cedar Park: Food Co-op Lets Community Choose What’s on the Shelves 

Philadelphia Neighborhoods, September 2010

The day before the official grand opening, Eric “Bull” Gervasi carefully placed each carton of eggs onto the shelves of the dairy cooler.  Much of the heavy lifting had already been undertaken and this seemed to be merely a finishing touch. As the project manager for the store’s move, Gervasi had seen each step of the store’s transition and now was just hours, and a few eggs, away from its completion.


Philadelphia Business Journal, May 2010

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced the award of $2 million in city funding to support small business development Tuesday, including Mariposa Food Co-op.