ALBANY COUNTY Albany dance caller Paul Rosenberg still has his 1995 receipt from the Honest Weight Food Co-Op. He was the first customer when the store opened its doors at 484 Central Ave., and its last when it closed them.
And on Wednesday, June 19, holding his original receipt like a golden ticket, he was the first out of 2,500 customers to make a purchase at the co-op’s new, much larger, home at 100 Watervliet Ave.
“It’s pretty wonderful. I’ve been waiting for it for however many years it was in the planning. It’s definitely a huge, huge improvement,” Rosenberg said.
Granting Rosenberg his wish embodies the co-op’s cornerstone: a sense of community. The member-owned, operated and self-governing organization follows “social and economic ethics” and has a strong focus on local, healthy and diverse products. Since finding a home in the Capital District in 1976, the co-op has started a new chapter by settling into a brand new 30,000-square-foot facility. Construction began on the store in August.
The 18,000 square feet of retail space doubles what was available at the former Central Avenue location. Though much like a conventional grocery store, there are no products with artificial preservatives, flavorings, additives or artificial coloring. The store has about 130 employees and nearly 9,000 members, although customers don’t have to be a member to shop at the co-op.
While many things remain the same as at the former location, several sections have been expanded. The bulk section now offers more than 800 products at a given time, including nuts, grains and spices. Customers are able to purchase the exact amount they want to, and are also recommended to bring their own containers to help reduce waste.
“This is a real destination for people who like to shop economically. It’s the largest bulk department in the Northeast,” co-op spokeswoman Lily Bartels said. “It’s a great spot to explore for the adventurous eater trying new things.”