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Of all the shops in this retail-packed city, the one that produces the craziest rumors isn't a high-end boutique on Madison Avenue or a celebrity vanity project in Soho but a humble, member-managed grocery store in Brooklyn. Why is the Park Slope Food Coop the target of so much gossip?
Maybe it's insecurity: Coop members volunteer for two hours and
25 45 minutes a month in exchange for healthy, ethically-produced food, making the rest of us feel like overworked sloths subsisting on Hot Pockets. Maybe it's because people just love tearing down an endeavor that's so painfully earnest. Or maybe that Coop really does attract more than its fair share of kale-addled lunatics. We're not going to pretend we have the answer—but we are going to take you through a tour of the best Coop rumors and controversy in recent years.
1.) The inspiration for this list is a rumor that was disseminated in the Park Slopiest of ways. First Amy Sohn, who wrote a satirical novel about Park Slope, tweeted a story about people getting into a fight in the Coop, and then the bloggers at FIPS, a satirical blog about Park Slope, ran with it. Evidence of said fight: Scant. Evidence that Park Slope residents like to make fun of Park Slope: Abundant.
2.) Back in April, a Coop member was in such a hurry to get home and watch Castle that he trapped three of his fellow volunteers inside the building by accident. The Fire Department had to free them by sawing off the lock.
3.) In February, FIPS reported via the Park Slope nannywire that well-off local families are paying their household help to do their volunteer shifts. New York Times investigated; two months later, so did the Daily News.
4.) Back in fall 2010, a mysterious flier appeared on the Food Coop bulletin board featuring a photo of a woman in a glittery dress, a bunch of barely legible scrawl, and this message: "I hired a hooker and she stole my dog!!!! Waahhhh!!!"Village Voice blog Runnin' Scared located the accused woman, but we still don't know what became of the dog.
5.) When the Barneys Co-op announced that it would be moving to Brooklyn in the spring of 2010, a manager at the Food Coop suggested that the luxury chain's name might be illegal. New York State dictates that any cooperative can sue for an injunction against a company that's abusing the term "coop." Sadly, the market never got anywhere near bringing Barneys to court, thereby denying us the chance to read a dozen Andrea Peyser op-eds about yuppies versus fashionistas.
6.) The only thing better than stories about celebrities is stores about celebrities hanging out with organic eggplants. Adrien Grenier was supposedly spotted in line, waiting to pay for some skin cream (though isn't he best friends with Kiehl's?) And Curbed has heard tell of Maggie Gyllenhaal working an afternoon Coop shift.
7.) February 19, 2009: Curbed publishes five sentences about a Coop proposal to ban Israeli-grown produce as a response to the situation in Gaza. 156 commenters respond. Two years later, the Coop announces that it's finally ready to debate the controversial measure.
8.) Way back in 2007, the Park Slope Food Coop took a great leap forward when it finally began accepting debit cards. At the time, at least, credit cards were still verboten: "Co-op members were on record as saying they did not want to encourage people to accumulate credit card debt."