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Bethlehem Food Co-op hires 1st general manager to mind the store

Nick Chismar
Bethlehem Food Co-op
Eric Shamis will be the first-ever general manager of the Bethlehem Food Co-op.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Bethlehem Food Co-op, a local grocery cooperative, has hired its first ever general manager to bring life to a store that has been in the works since 2011.

Bethlehem Food Co-op's web page defines co-op as "an independent, democratic organization owned, operated and financed by its members, committed to the people it serves and the communities in which they live."

  • The co-op has hired Eric Shamis as general manager
  • Shamis, of Easton, has worked more than 20 years in the retail industry, including 14 years for grocery stores
  • The co-op at 250 E. Broad St. in Bethlehem is slated to open later this year

The co-op, which was organized in the fall of 2011, will bring a community-owned grocery store to 250 E. Broad St. in Bethlehem. The store is scheduled to open late this year.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to offer healthy, locally sourced and reasonably-priced food in a fun and inviting atmosphere.”
Eric Shamis, future general manager of Bethlehem Food Co-op

After a national search, Eric Shamis, of Easton, was selected by the co-op’s board to serve as general manager and will start May 1, according to a news release. His responsibilities will include setting the store up in the leased space being built, hiring employees and working to open the market.

Shamis has over 20 years' experience in the retail industry, as well as 17 years in retail management. He has worked in grocery stores for 14 years and has previously managed stores as part of chains including Acme, Giant and ShopRite, according to his LinkedIn.

“I am thrilled to take part in the historical movement that is creating a community hub in the heart of Bethlehem,” Shamis said in the release. “It’s an exciting opportunity to offer healthy, locally sourced and reasonably-priced food in a fun and inviting atmosphere.”

“We’re excited to have found Eric to lead us into the next important phase of the Bethlehem Food Co-op,” said Carol Ritter, chair of the co-op’s board. “His experience and values are a great fit for our organization, and we are very excited to begin working with him.”

READ MORE: Author, radio/TV host: Local food co-op could become model for other communities

Bethlehem Food Co-op, which says it has 1,300 members, says on its website: "Our store will be open to all shoppers, and will feature healthy, nutritious, locally sourced products. Even now, we are also working to give back to our community — and support it — through educational, environmental, and social justice initiatives."

The announcement Tuesday night comes after the March update that the store was in final negotiations with a job candidate, along with new pictures of the site’s construction.