"We want it to be a market for everyone in New Haven," says Elm City Market marketing director Amy Christensen-Regni. "So we mixed it up. It's a very hybrid store." Barely five months old, the market has made its mark on how folks buy food downtown. "Local, sustainable products are #1," Christensen-Regni says. "We support 150 regional vendors. We'll probably put $7 million into the local economy this year." The store, which anchors the new 360 State building at the corner of State and Chapel, serves over 1000 customers a day, starting with a base of 1500 members in the cooperatively run business. "New Haveners did this for themselves." The store went from 500 members on opening day to over 1500 now, says General Manager Mark Regni, who moved to New Haven with Amy to apply what they've learned at other cooperative and natural foods markets. "The expectation was to grow steadily. We needed a goal of 300 to get financing from the bank." Because "co-op is a word that can put some people off," Elm City Market takes care to explain that anyone can shop there; members simply have a larger investment and more input in the store's operations. Growth is the whole story here. Locally grown, grown with care and healthy concerns. Growing the inventory: "I worked for a company that took months to get a product on the shelf," Amy says; "we can do that here in one day." And one of the largest growth elements of the market — the local spring farming season — has just begun. "Our produce department has been large already," Mark says, "but with all the locals, it's going to go ballistic."
Winner of Best Local Grocery Store in the New Haven Advocate Best Of Readers' Poll 2012.