VegCo Market, 100% Plant-Based Store Opening Early 2013

Categories: Chow Bella

VegCo's not close to opening yet, so they've displayed a mock-up on their website.

For a while now, we've been hearing about a 100% plant-based supermarket planning to open in early 2013 in a space just south of Central and McDowell. It's called VegCo and they already have a big social media following with over 1500 likes on their Facebook page.

See also:
- Now Open: Freeze-Dried Scrambled Eggs, Emergency Toilets and More at the Honeyville Farms Store in Chandler
- Raw Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: Don't Knock It Till You've Tried It

We got the early scoop for you from the health and environmentally-conscious owner, Heather Francois.

Inspired by the movies Forks Over Knives and Earthlings, Francois started researching Arizona's year-round growing capabilities and how she could help make plant-based foods easier and more affordable to source and eat.

Her solution is this market, which is roughly 12,000 square feet and includes a grocery store, deli and bakery, a demonstration kitchen, a classroom and an indoor demonstration garden. She's planned to organize the courses based around cooking skills, urban farming, and health and wellness.

Her goal is "to offer a full spectrum of high quality plant foods at truly affordable prices."

Here's their visual plan for more plentiful bulk foods aisles than we're used to seeing at traditional supermarkets.

The majority of food sold at VegCo Market will be unpackaged to reduce waste and lower food costs.

You won't find any meat, fish, dairy, eggs or honey at this market. VegCo Market will contain a complete offering of plant-based foods including fresh produce section (sourcing organic and locally-grown foods), grains and grain products (breads, pastas, cereals, etc.), legumes, nuts and seeds, alternatives to meat, seafood and dairy, seasonings and spices, and culinary tools with which to prepare these foods.

The grocery store portion will be membership-based, including the produce department. "Areas of VegCo open to the public are: the deli and bakery, as well as VegCo 101 which includes the large classroom, the demonstration kitchen and the demonstration garden," Francois tells us.

We wondered why she's incorporated a membership program. She explained that it's not a co-op, but more like a buying club, like a Costco or Sam's Club. She explained that since "local food distribution is in its infancy," she wanted to be able to "manage expectations between shoppers and farmers more closely. In order to ensure that our supply matches the demand, we feel it is very important to know how many shoppers to expect and how much they typically buy of each item. This way we reduce the risk of over or under ordering products."

Membership is $50, annually, plus tax.

She will offer another option for those who choose to forgo the fee. "For those who prefer not to pay the membership fee, we will offer them the opportunity to volunteer a few hours with one of our local growers instead of paying. This is great for lower income families or those who simply wish to understand more about where their food comes from," Francois says.

She also tells us that she plans to link their inventory database to their website so that they can be sure that the market patrons will have their favorite foods available when they head to the market.

What do you think about a 100% plant-based market? Do you think vegans and omnivores alike will support such a venture?

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Thank you for posting this article & thank you for being 1 of the few- maybe, only- media articles about this VegCo that actually gets into the point of fact that the present VegCo biz model is a Co-Op or 'Buying Club.' Please excuse my post below that I used for the majority of the other articles in the media that miss this major point. Long story, short: It's good to see a plant-based biz, but the biz model is in direct opposition w/ the biz mission statement to open things up for the plant-based/vegan/vegetarian philosophy/market when the biz charges $50 for the key to open up that door & go in & get in on the action. This is called being 2-faced & takes away from the great potential to get a plant-based grocery biz going. Back to the drawing board until VegCo gets w/ the program of how things go here: Free society, free people, interacting freely, in free markets. The other mainstream grocery stores blow VegCo away because it is free to shop anywhere in the store, but VegCo is pay to play. Good luck, VegCo.


A major point either missed, minimized, or ignored by this article:The VegCo business model is based upon an exclusive, paid membership.From the VegCo website: 'REMEMBER! Membership is only (?) needed (?)for the grocery department. The deli, bakery and learning center areopen to the public; members receive  a 10% discount on these goods andservices.' So.. Is the grocery dept actually closed to the public?Again, from the VegCo website: 'Membership is open to the public, andanyone is welcome to join.' Even tho the deli, bakery, & learningcenter are open to the public, the grocery dept is more like anexclusive co-op for paying members, only. VegCo's mission statement:'Our Mission: We believe the food we eat has far-reachingconsequences. By providing our community with nutritious, delicious,affordable, plant-based foods, we aim to improve human health, bringgreater awareness to the connection between all living beings andfurther the green movement by decreasing our carbon footprints.' Thissays a lot about the founders, their philosophy, & the VegCo businessmodel. Long story, short: It is good to see VegCo start a plant-basedbusiness & say it's for the good of the community, but VegCo- &,somehow, the author of this article, here- minimizes or avoidsidentifying & representing VegCo as the exclusive, membership-onlygrocery store co-op it is or mostly resembles; again, apart from theopen-to-the-public deli, bakery, & learning center. Even tho it's goodto see the founders of VegCo making a commitment to expanding aplant-based philosophy throughout the community, that good point iskind of flipped upside-down- or, maybe, twisted around- when VegCoitself runs itself as an exclusive, membership-only co-op grocerystore at the same time. An objective, logical observation may see thisas 'VegCo is all about expanding the plant-based resources in acommunity grocery store; that is, w/ 1 exception: Go to any othergrocery store & you get to shop around & buy anything you like. Go toVegCo &, apart from the deli, bakery, & learning center, VegCo is likeCostCo- being exclusive, membership-only- for plant-based resources.The main point, here, is observing the inner workings of VegCo'sbusiness model: VegCo is committed to expand plant-based resourcesthroughout the community, but you've got to pay to be a member to getin on the action. That's something in & of itself. And, there's lotsmore to it: This is kind of like making you a start-up businesspartner. One may be open to this, provided VegCo will make themembership expense into an investment like a stock, seed money, orwhatever, just so long as your membership contract provides theopportunity for paid members/investors to get in on the profits. Hey,I'd like to be a paying member if I get the opportunity to getinvolved in how the biz is run & the potential to get a return on myinvestment. Whatever 'logic'/rationalization VegCo tries to 'justify'its business model, it is consciously & willfully replacing the term'business investor' w/ 'paid member,' covering up the point that VegComembers are paying to run VegCo instead of only paying to shop & buygoods & services at VegCo. Also, VegCo states the general public iswelcome to join, avoiding the follow-thru point that the only way thegeneral public gets to shop & buy in the grocery dept is to pay amembership fee, similar to CostCo. Another co-op in Tempe, AZ, thelong-running institution Gentle Strength, was a co-op that was open tothe general public (non-members), so anyone could go in & shop & buy,discounts on pricing to paying members. Overall, this is the moreideal & open business model for the overall good of the community. Or,just build the inner workings into the price points for the goods &services. However, for the VegCo founders, making it free to shop &buy at VegCo either minimizes their profits excessively or the VegCobusiness model is too dependent upon paying members to making it workor otherwise failing or VegCo tries this business model for now, makesit off the ground, but by sticking to it fails in the long runbecause, just like Gentle Strength going out of business, the businessmodel promoting things sustainable is the opposite of sustainable;that is, unless enough people within the demographics of the communityare willing to pay extra for something like this up front to bemembers. If it's a co-op, then call it 1. How will this business modelopen things & opportunities for the general public to check out &explore the plant-based philosophy? Or, will those within thecommunity who are into a more animal-based philosophy get close enoughto think about trying it/going for the plant-based philosophy, whymake it something they've got to pay for up front to be a member, whenit cpuld just be built into the price points of the goods & services?Is it, maybe, because, the prices would then be way too high? Is themembership fee some kind of cover-up to mask the actual price points?Also,on to another point: The last line in the VegCo mission statementrefers to a theory- only a theory, a lot of the theory being basedupon falsified data & statistics- about how some things within theplant-based movement relate to the green movement & 'carbonfootprints.' A statement like this within any business' missionstatement about theoretical 'carbon footprints' may turn off potentialcustomers who may get the impression that the business may, in someway & to some extent, be some kind of hardcore leftist co-op involvedin leftist theory, philosophy, & political activities & these peoplewill avoid paying for membership or buying goods & services because ofwhere the profits may go, 1 way or another. Just some ideas for all tothink about. All the best & onward & upward for the plant-basedmovement.


I would be there in a second, it's a great concept!  Unfortunately I live in East Chandler so probably won't get down there that much.  If it was closer, I'd be there every week.  Distribution of local produce is one of the major issues (opportunities) in a sustainable food system.  I wish the store the best of luck!

Shawn Jeffries
Shawn Jeffries

No voluntary taxes...but ur underage children can work there for the fee. Or u and your children

Linda Linda
Linda Linda

Booooo! I am not a fan of stores that charge you to shop in them. So a thumbs down on the membership fee. "Membership is $50, annually, plus tax."

Now Trending

From the Vault