By CBS3 Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nine years ago, something new came to Chestnut Hill, and it’s much more than a store. At Weavers Way, you can buy anything from produce to prepared food to gifts and soaps.

But this is not a traditional grocery store. Weavers Way is a cooperative, or co-op for short.

As store manager Dean Stefano explains, “A co-op is basically a member-owned business. ”

Weavers Way Co-op started in the ’70s in nearby Mount Airy. Members agreed to invest a little money and some labor and got fresh produce in return. Over the years, it grew to more than 3,600 members.

Then Weavers Way took a chance on Chestnut Hill. They bought and renovated the old Caruso’s Market building on Germantown Avenue, raised $700,000 in loans, and opened in May 2009 in the heart of Chestnut Hill.

Jackie Lawrence, of East Mount Airy said, “When Caruso’s was here, I used to go here, but when Weavers Way came, it made it even better for me.”

Weavers Way also opened a wellness store next door. It’s now Weavers Way’s fastest growing section, said manager Chris Mallam, who oversees the store’s products:

“Soaps, lotions, oils, candles, cards, gifts, as well as our herbal extracts and other nutritional supplements,” he said.

Now, nearly 10,000 households have become part owners of Weavers Way Co-op, paying a minimum of $30 a year, and often volunteering their own time to keep it running. Although members get a discount, anyone is welcome to shop, making it a vibrant center of the Chestnut Hill community.

“We do a lot of outreach in the community and we also support a lot of local vendors,” Dean said.

“And the difference is, you know, where the money goes. It goes back to the neighborhood,” said Jordan May, who works in the produce section. “It’s always very good for the Chestnut Hill area, brings us money, brings money to local restaurants. You can’t really get any better than that.”

CBS3’s Jessica Kartalija reports.