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Grocery co-op solicits funds for Foodland site market study

Posted: July 27, 2012 - 12:06am

Capital City Market Cooperative plans to meet July 30 to give an update on efforts to move a grocery cooperative into the space soon to be vacated by the Alaskan and Proud grocery.

Co-op founders have been busy since they first met in early May.

Since its first meeting the cooperative adopted bylaws, formed a licensed corporation and now holds an Alaska business license.

It has been an interesting process and a real learning process,” Greg Fisk, cooperative steering committee member said.

Now the cooperative is soliciting founding members for contributions of $500 to help fund a “full-blown market study,” Fisk said. “(These are) people who would be first investing.”

Half of the $500 goes toward a lifetime membership in the co-op and half goes to start-up costs, like the study.

Fisk estimates the study will cost around $12,000. He said Cooperative Marketing Services would conduct the study.

Fundraising is going well, Fisk said.

“We’ve got tremendous interest,” Fisk said. “We already have in hand about enough money to kick off the study.” Fisk expects the co-op will have sufficient funds in hand by end of Monday’s meeting.

“Everyone is concerned with there being a good grocery story downtown,” Fisk said.

The cooperative’s future is not guaranteed.

A cooperative takes longer to open its doors than a conventional grocer, Fisk said.

“Our effort might be for naught,” Fisk said.

However, Fisk said the long-term business prospects for a cooperative are very good. And the Foodland Center is a good site, he said.

Fisk said the image of food cooperatives as funky and not very business-like is wrong. Recreational Equipment Incorporated and Central Market in Seattle are examples of “extremely well run” cooperatives, Fisk said.

“We think the model is really good. It is just a matter of timing,” Fisk said.

If Capital City Market doesn’t inhabit the spot left by Alaskan and Proud when it closes in September, Fisk said he hopes a good grocer moves in.

“Someone innovative and community oriented,” Fisk said. “That is so essential to the city. If we’re needed, we’re trying to get ready.”

Also since the co-op’s May meeting, funds from the University of Alaska helped pay to send Greg Fisk and Evelyn Rousso to visit food cooperatives in Seattle and to an annual cooperative conference in Philadelphia.

Greg Fisk, Evelyn Rousso, Sally Schlichting, Odin Brudie and Patty Ware make up the co-op’s steering committee. Doug Mertz is legal counsel.

The cooperative plans to meet July 30 at 5 p.m. at 126 Seward Street in the offices of NorthWind Architects. The meeting is open to the public.

Those interested can find out more about the co-op, or donate to become a founding member at the July 30 meeting.

Contact the Capital City Market Cooperative at capitalcitymarketjuneau@gmail.com.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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