Many people associate the growth of local grocery co-ops with the 1960–1975 period, during which many of our region’s existing stores began. A notable exception to the 1960s food co-op movement in St. Paul was the Credjafawn Co-op Store, which briefly served the Rondo community in the years immediately following World War II. Its freestanding building at 678 Rondo Avenue, at what was then the corner of Rondo Avenue and St. Albans Street, lay roughly four blocks northwest of Mississippi Market’s Selby store.
Lively photographs of the Credjafawn Co-op from 1948 document a tidy, well-equipped corner store with white-painted porcelain cases, a two-tiered air-conditioned produce display backed by tall mirrors, and grocery carts small enough to thread their way through narrow aisles packed with fresh food for sale. The Co-op’s two large street-facing windows were partly papered with posters featuring the familiar twin-pines logo of the National Cooperative Business Association, which also served as Mississippi Market ‘s logo for a short period of time.
The Credjafawn Co-op Store was a project of the Credjafawn Social Club (1928–1980), one of the Twin Cities’ earliest African-American social institutions. The Credjafawn Social Club served as a community building organization, sponsoring youth events, picnics, dances, concert recitals, and other public affairs in the Rondo neighborhood. During World War II, Credjafawn Social Club organized its own credit union in order to lend money to members and also bought war bonds to support the war effort. One of its immediate postwar projects was the development of the Credjafawn Co-op Store.
Its location at 678 Rondo Avenue was constructed between 1910 and 1925, when the neighborhood was still largely inhabited by Jewish residents. Prior to the Credjafawn Co-op beginning operation in 1946, the building had been run as a neighborhood grocery store by a succession of Jewish owners, including Jack Dimond, who supported Credjafawn by buying ads in their concert programs.
Unfortunately, Credjafawn Co-op did not survive long; by the mid-1950s, it had become Martin’s Grocery. Soon thereafter, it and its neighboring businesses were demolished as a result of the federal construction of Interstate-94 through the heart of the Rondo neighborhood. What remains of the neighborhood’s historical commercial business district on Rondo Avenue (now Concordia Avenue) borders the southern edge of I-94, its businesses long since gone.
To commemorate Credjafawn Co-op Store and its immense impact on our community, photos of the store can be seen on display in the seating area of our Selby store. Mississippi Market is honored to carry on Credjafawn Co-op’s legacy as a community-owned and operated grocery store where everyone is welcome and anyone can shop.
Special thanks to Lisa Tabor, Founder and President of CultureBrokers LLC, for introducing us to Credjafawn Co-op. CultureBrokers LLC is a certified minority, woman-owned business enterprise focused on developing intercultural inclusion initiatives and building community relationships. Mississippi Market has partnered with them in the past on development of an intercultural inclusiveness initiative at the co-op.