Article 25

Clifton Gets a Market

In Uncategorized on 06/14/2016 at 8:50 am

Adam Hyland Clifton Market-17

Adam Hyland is president of the board of directors of Clifton Market. Photo by Aimie Willhoite.

And it belongs to the community

By Steven Paul Lansky


Construction has begun on Clifton Market. The market, which has more than 1,250 owners, will sell groceries, including baked goods, and will have a coffee bar and delicatessen. Clifton’s food desert will soon have an oasis.

After more than five years of promises, misleading statements and delays, the cooperative effort to return a grocery store to the Clifton Gaslight district of Cincinnati seems to be on track to open to customers in the fall. Turnbull-Wahlert Construction Co. has installed a trailer in the back parking lot of the Ludlow Avenue site.

On March 19 at 319 Ludlow Ave., a convergence of numbers was noted by Marilyn Hyland of the Clifton Market Board of Directors, who took the date and address matching (both 319) as a kind of sign. A screening of a brief video to publicize the ceremonial groundbreaking at the site drew about 150 people, who started the morning in the Esquire Theatre across the street before gathering in the store to watch local leaders stage a little demolition and share food from a donated buffet set up by future suppliers.

Community ownership

Characterized as a victory for the little people by activist and political candidate Brian Garry, the economic structure of the new store is an important story. At a time when neighborhood development remains controversial, as developers see big opportunities for profit in the Gaslight District, the community has risen to the challenge of a community-share ownership model for an uptrend grocery. Described as an anchor for Ludlow Avenue, nearly every shop owner in the six-block-long village-style business district sees this news as a rising tide. Speaking metaphorically, Adam Hyland, Marilyn’s son and president of the board of directors, said it will raise all boats.

In conversing with Adam and others while seated on the Telford Avenue benches next to Pangaea Trading Company, across the street from Graeter’s Ice Cream shop, many neighbors joined in discussion about the design firm that came up with the logo, characterizing this area as one where people are relocating from as far away as the West Coast. The area has also attracted street people. One man, who gave his name as Duff, asked what he thought of the coming market said, “It’s a great idea. About time it’s happening. I’ve never seen a co-op. I’m glad it’s here.”

Northside lacks a grocery. The Apple Street Co-operative Market is in the planning stages. Kroger’s store at Clifton Plaza is under construction, so the nearest large market in the area is the Kroger store on Kennard Street. Clifton Natural Foods, United Dairy Farmers, Jagdeep’s Indian Grocery and CVS all sell groceries, but according to Adam Hyland, these businesses will not compete directly with Clifton Market. The new market will provide more than groceries, creating a community base with cooking classes, lectures on nutrition, discussions about sustainability and an effort to curb waste by sharing dated produce with local food pantries.

In the 1970s a small food co-op served Clifton and the surrounding communities. Initially housed in the basement of the church at Rohs Street and McMillan Avenue, the current site of the Rohs Street Café, it is all but forgotten. The baristas at the café said their institution went back 26 years, and they had no idea how the building was used before that. Some years after its Clifton location there was a food co-op in Northside that spun off the Hilltop Community Co-op in Price Hill circa 1983. This morphed into Imago – or maybe more accurately was one of the seed efforts that led to Imago. The co-op model – in which the community owns the store by buying shares – has long been dormant in Cincinnati. While mostly forgotten, if memory serves, the failure of the model was due to corrupt management and economic pressures from larger corporate food-distribution efforts. Bulk buying and natural food products became part of the corporate structure.

Food for others

In speaking with people about the Clifton Market, it became clear that many people want a grocery store within walking distance, on a convenient bus line – especially at a transfer point – with access by bicycle and offering parking.

“If parking is a problem, that would be good,” Adam Hyland said.

Obviously he was speaking to the amount of business that would imply. The store has 54 dedicated spaces and is adjacent to a community lot. RedBike has a dock as well.

Among countless potential future customers is a woman who lives in Price Hill and works as a dishwasher at Ruth’s Parkside Cafe in Northside. She would use the Clifton Market while she rides the bus to commute. Repeat this scenario by the hundreds, and one can only imagine the increased vitality this would bring to the Ludlow Avenue village.

There will inevitably be food that cannot be sold on a regular basis from the deli counter and produce sections of the new store. Brian Frank of Clifton Market’s board explained that the Barbash Family Vital Support Center on the campus of Hebrew Union College would be a primary partner for donations of food. There is also a plan to develop a compost center for the Hebrew Union College community garden. Additional partners for donations will include St. George Pantry, the food pantry at Church of Our Savior and the Share a Meal Dinner on Tuesdays at Gabriel Place.

Frank acted as a liaison with Cincinnati State College student interns, who have made promotional videos for the Clifton Market and provided additional support while receiving college credit for their activities. The videos include images of children and two local coffeehouse owners, Lydia Stec of Om Eco Café and Lisa Storie of Sitwell’s. Both spoke passionately to the need for a grocery store. Mike Anagnostou of Ludlow Wines claims his business fell off 38 percent after IGA closed. This, even though wine and beer were a significant part of IGA’s business. The new store will sell alcohol but not tobacco.



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