Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Wait is Over. The Doors Have Opened.

November 2, 2011 was a day to celebrate in downtown New Haven, CT. Many of the owner/members of the long-awaited Elm City Market  took the opportunity to be the first ones in the checkout lines during the course of a full day of pre-opening shopping. At 4:30 pm, the entire community poured into the store for the ribbon cutting and opening night festivities — tastings from local vendors to the tunes of local performers. 

The Elm City Market is a hybrid co-op situated on the ground floor of New Haven (and the region’s) greenest apartment building — 360 State Street, a LEED Platinum certified building powered by electricity generated by a fuel cell, developed by Fairfield CT firm Becker + Becker. As of opening day, the market had 750 owner/members. Elm City Market is a food oasis in a densely populated section of the city which had lacked a grocery store for decades. The market’s opening has created over 100 new jobs for local residents!

Getting a market in this location was no easy task. Being selected as developer for the site was a highly competitive process. One requirement for development of the site was inclusion of a high-end, full-service grocery store; failure to provide such a store within the first three years of the building’s opening would result in a hefty $250,000 fine.  When the likely candidates said the footprint was too small, developer Becker + Becker turned to the successful City Market in Burlington, VT for a model. And now, less than 3 years since the December 19, 2008 groundbreaking, here I stand inside a beautiful new grocery store. 

There were many people to thank at the ribbon-cutting, from Webster Bank which had committed $4 million in funding, to retiring 7th Ward alderwoman Bitsie Clark who has been involved with 360 State Street since the selection of the site developer. Even the USDA’s Rural Business Services had a hand in the project, since the market is stimulating business for local farmers.  

Now, back to the market. As a hybrid, the market features local, natural, organic, along with conventional produce, meat, and groceries. Conventional groceries make up about 15% of the market’s SKUs, but are promised by store manager Mark Regni to be “the cleanest…the best of conventional.” The market carries a number of local items, clearly marked LO, many of which were suggested by co-op members, and the managers promise to stock even more. It is particularly strong on local bread and baked goods. There is a 30 foot hot bar, a salad bar, and a seating area for dining in. The prices seem pretty much in line for high-end products, and the sale prices, particularly in the produce area, very fair. On my tour through the aisles I learned that the frozen green beans come from the USA! 

The market also carries an excellent selection of vitamins and supplements, a wide range of natural toiletries and beauty products, and a good assortment of greeting cards and green living items, perfect for last-minute gifts. Many area residents had been making frequent trips to Orange and Milford to shop for such wares in the two stores which had turned down the developer’s offer to open in New Haven. 

Those days are over for me. I’m about to invest in a new set of wheels. I have my shopping cart picked out. I just have to make a trip in the car to pick it up…

Oh happy day! 

Check it out. You, too, could become an owner/member. No work requirement, just a one-time membership fee. Installment plan available. Details here


  1. Another great post Elaine! I was there yesterday morning and agree with your description. The store is a nice size, is well laid out and things are attractively displayed. For those who drive the parking garage elevator goes right to the store entrance. Prices seem to range between Stop and Shop and Whole Foods.

  2. Another good thing in New Haven. Also - newly opened is Katalina's Bakery where Clark's Dairy used to be. A little pricey but excellent baked goods. I tried a Yale Bulldog cupcake - chocolate cake with cayenne pepper, raspberry cream filling and nutmeg icing. Whoa..... They also have vegan and gluten free offerings. A good place to visit after shopping at the Elm City Coop.

  3. Whoa indeed. I will have to try Katalina's out. Thanks to both of you for the positive comments. Downtown shopping is certainly looking up. We gave our new wheels a test drive this afternoon…