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Historia cooperativa de Buffalo

Buffalo and Western New York have a rich history of cooperative businesses and movements, especially in the region's Black community. Explore some highlights of this history below:


Buffalo Cooperative Economic Society

Citizens Cooperative Society of Buffalo founded in 1928 was one of the first documented efforts of cooperative economic entrepreneurship in the city’s Black community.


Led by Dr. Ezekiel E. Nelson, a Black physician, the organization included a co-op grocery, credit union, and educational campaign. The name later changed to the Buffalo Cooperative Economic Society, and the organization existed for over 30 years until 1961.



East Side Community Cooperative

East Side Community Cooperative (ECCO) began as a buying club in 1968, and later expanded to a grocery store in 1971.

The store was funded through the Buffalo Model Cities program, which was part of a federal anti-poverty initiative. Founder William E. West reflected in 2006 that while the organization’s members were initially very active, only about 5 percent of its membership showed up to monthly meetings in later years.




EMMA, a feminist bookstore collective in the 1970s and 1980s, was located at the corner of Greenfield and Main Streets.

It was a safe space for lesbians and queers, a hub of leftist culture, and a place to find feminist literature that was not offered at mainstream bookshops. “The collective believed that how they ran the store was just as important as whether they ran it at all.” Members worked store shifts and participated in decision making together.



  • Adrienne C. Hill, “Archives: Reflections of EMMA,” LOOP Magazine, May 2018


Our Market

The campaign to open “Our Market” beginning in 1995 was a community response to food apartheid on Buffalo’s East Side.

City Hall agreed to help finance the project, but the money never arrived. The planning committee for this cooperative grocery store recruited members and commissioned a market survey. Their efforts kept the issue prominent until Tops Markets opened on Jefferson Ave in 2003 with substantial state financial support.



Co-ops and Crises

Buffalo tiene una rica historia de negocios y movimientos cooperativos, especialmente en la comunidad negra de la ciudad. Los ciudadanos  La Sociedad Cooperativa de Buffalo comenzó en 1928 para abordar la actual crisis económica y social de los afroamericanos. Continuó bajo varios nombres, incluida la Sociedad Económica Cooperativa de Buffalo, hasta 1961, e incluía una tienda de comestibles propiedad de los consumidores, una cooperativa de crédito y una campaña educativa.  


A continuación se muestra un video de Leanna Zilles, becaria de Cornell High Road 2020, que trabajó con nosotros para estudiar la historia de las cooperativas negras en Buffalo y el importante papel que han desempeñado las cooperativas en momentos nacionales y mundiales de crisis económica y exclusión económica sistémica.

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