Israel’s first discount supermarket co-op store — an initiative of Jewish agencies and private donors — opened in the beleaguered city of Sderot.
The Tzarchaniyat Ha’Ir, or CityMart, which opened Monday, is a multimillion-dollar project of The Jewish Agency, UJA-Federation of New York, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the Israel Venture Network and private donors.
A second branch is planned for Arad, a city in the northern Negev Desert, for later this month. The initiative has a goal of opening 10 stores a year for the next four years.
Sderot, in southern Israel, has been the target of terrorist bombings over a number of years.
The co-ops are meant to provide a low-cost shopping alternative for the socio-economic challenged communities in Israel’s northern and southern periphery. They were inspired by the 2011 “cottage cheese protest” movement in Israel, which saw thousands of people living in tents and holding demonstrations in a backlash against skyrocketing consumer goods and housing prices.
Cottage cheese, an Israeli staple that had been selling for more than $2 per container, became a symbol of the movement.
CityMart will operate as a nonprofit, with its earnings going toward opening additional branches, lowering prices, and fostering communal activities and social change.