Published : Tuesday, April 2, 2013 | 11:09 AM
Following an overwhelmingly positive vote by its membership, the Arroyo Food Co-op has leased a former grocery in central Pasadena, taking a major step toward opening its long-awaited community-owned grocery store.
Over 98% of the Co-op members who voted gave their approval for the Board of Directors to sign the lease on the approximately 4,900 square-foot building at 494 N. Wilson Avenue at Villa Street. The building was once the site of Georgeâ€™s Market.
“We looked high and low to find just the right spot to open the Co-op. We looked for all those things that make a location a good location,â€ said Tricia Keane, president of the Co-opâ€™s Board of Directors. â€œWe wanted it to be as close to our members as possible, and conveniently located for members of the public. I always had a dream that we would find a former grocery store just waiting for new people to move in, and, apparently, dreams do come true. The former George’s Market site has all the things we were looking forâ€”and then some. This is truly an exciting time to be part of the Arroyo Food Co-op.â€
Along with signing the lease, the Co-op announced the kick off of its capital campaign to raise the final funds necessary to open its doors. The Co-op needs approximately $70,000 to refurbish and renovate the site and another $251,000 for operational expenses, primarily inventory. Although loans from the co-opâ€™sÂ existing members will form the bulk of these funds, the co-op is actively seeking new members. Furthermore, current members are being encouraged to reach their full membership investment if they have not already. The Co-op currently counts a total of 550 members, both full- and partially-vested.
â€œAll the signs seem to be pointing us in this direction,â€ said Patrick Reagan, Co-op CFO and founder. â€œThis wonderful site, the strong health of the Co-opâ€™s finances, and the promising response weâ€™ve received from the community, all compelled us to jump when this lease opportunity came up. Years of hard work have brought us to these last steps before we open our doors. With the communityâ€™s continued support, weâ€™ll clear these remaining milestones, establish a significant resource for healthy food, and provide yet one more example of how well the cooperative business model works for a local economy.â€
A devoted cadre of volunteers, led by an eight-member board of directors, is spearheading the effort to open the Co-op. Nearly five years in the making, the Arroyo Food Co-op was formally established as a California Consumer Cooperative Corporation in 2009. It will serve as an alternative to corporate-owned grocers in the region and will be entirely owned by its members. It will offer organic, sustainable, and locally sourced products along with humanely raised meats, fair trade items, and non-GMO produce. Features such as a deli, coffee bar, and community space are also being considered.
Everyone is welcome to shop at the co-op, but those who make the investment to become member-owners receive additional benefits, including patronage refunds during profitable years. The full investment to join is $300; however the co-op offers a payment plan of $30 per year.
For more information about the Co-opâ€™s location, its capital campaignâ€”including how to make a loanâ€”and becoming a member, visit www.arroyofoodcoop.com.