In the heart of downtown Greensboro, mixed with breweries, restaurants and various other spots selling local goods and wares, sits the 10,000 square foot Deep Roots Market. It’s more than a grocery store, for sure. The food co-op, located on North Eugene Street, began as a small vegetarian buying club in a Guilford College dormitory in the 1960s. By 1976, ownership in the co-op had grown large enough to support a storefront business and incorporated it to become Deep Roots Market. In March 2013, after being in a couple of other locations around town over the years, Deep Roots Market moved to its current location downtown to continue to meet the needs of its growing owner base and the broader community.
Co-ops are owned and run by member-owners—not outside investors. They return surplus revenues to those member-owners proportionate to their use of the co-op instead of proportionate to their investment or ownership share. Co-ops are service-motivated—not profit-motivated—and strive to provide affordable and high-quality goods and services to their member-owners.
Deep Roots boasts a retail market of foods and other household goods but also for decades has been a community location for just that—community. “Our hot bar and seating areas have always been so popular,” says Meghan Labean, Marketing Coordinator for Deep Roots Market. “And our Community Room has long been a place for all sorts of groups—PTAs, book clubs, non-profit committees, you name it—to use as they need. But this last several months, of course, that has all had to change dramatically.”
Since the onset of COVID-19 and the resulting shutdowns and restrictions greatly impacting places like Deep Roots Market, they have been faced with never-before-seen challenges but have also done impressive pivots to remain successful. With the hot bar closed, the seating area closed and the Community Room having to shut its doors, the team at Deep Roots went to work.
“Because of the nature of how we always have existed and done things, we had never really established an online shopping presence, but obviously that had to change,” says Labean. “It already was in the long-term plan, but COVID forced our hand on this.”
Deep Roots dove in and started reinventing some things. Ready-made meals became a popular offering. Personal shopping picked up, whether from phone-in or online orders—and home delivery and curbside pickup quickly became the mechanisms for Deep Roots to continue meeting the needs of its shoppers. (Deliveries were and still often are made by volunteers, especially for those customers who are older or have other risk factors at play—all in the name of community.)
Even though Deep Roots Market has been around for a long time, the NorthState Tech Lab was still very appealing, particularly given the challenges currently facing so many businesses, especially local ones. “We appreciate the opportunity to get more eyes and ears on our problems—both the little ones and the big ones. We are especially looking for input regarding our online business,” Labean says. “Sometimes it can be hard to see the forest for the trees, and the troubleshooting, idea-sharing and camaraderie of the Tech Lab is a wonderful opportunity for us. We’re happy to be a part of it.”
For more information about Deep Roots Market, visit deeprootsmarket.com.