Mariposa Co-op: Bust a Move

story by Ariela RoseMariposa Co-op grew out of buying clubs that flourished in the 1970s. In the early ’80s, several groups merged, opening a storefront at 4726 Baltimore Avenue. The co-op has come a long way since then: currently 1,000 members strong, Mariposa has outgrown its original space. Now, with help from members—and a Community Design Collaborative grant—the co-op has finally secured a new home.
At 5,500 square feet, the new space is five times larger than Mariposa’s current digs. Originally home to the Belmont Trust Company, a bank established in the 1920s, the building boasts beautiful period details, including front columns. More recently, the building housed the Beulah Tabernacle Church; they sold to Mariposa this past spring. The entire expansion (including renovation and design) will cost $2.25 million. The store is slated for a July 2011 opening.
“In terms of our membership, I feel like we’ve had a really broad buy-in,” says Esteban Kelly, Mariposa’s Education and Development Coordinator. “Even though our average member isn’t particularly wealthy, people have been able to either make small donations or raise their equity and invest a little bit more.”
Money raised from members will go towards design elements created in partnership with Re:Vision Architecture. Timed spot lighting, high-efficiency refrigeration and a community classroom area will all be implemented in the first of three renovation phases.
The co-op is also repurposing materials from the renovation process, incorporating them into a fresh design. And, according to Bull Gervasi, Mariposa’s store and project manager, they eventually plan to plant a rooftop garden.
The new space will offer 2,500 square feet of retail space and allow the co-op to expand partnerships with local businesses and farms. Non-members will also be invited to shop.
“Our duty to the co-op, as members, has been to take what we’ve inherited and improve upon it,” explains Kelly. “Now we’re creating this store that’s going to be a proper store—and be much more widely accessible—and have an impact on what would otherwise be a food desert.”

Mariposa is moving from 4726 Baltimore Ave. to 4824 Baltimore Ave. To learn more about the move and fundraising events, call 215-729-2121
or visit