Co-op market ahead of schedule

Cooperative wooing prospective founders, seeking investors

Capital City Market Cooperative has made rapid advances toward the creation of a grocery cooperative in the Foodland Center.

Founders of the market cooperative were told they were looking at a three to six year project bringing a co-op to fruition.

“We are two and a half years ahead of schedule,” Greg Fisk Capital City Market steering committee member said. “We had sort of a crisis situation here.”

The co-op has incorporated and is a business. It has raised enough funds to conduct a market survey. However, the interim co-op board is looking further ahead than that. It held an informational meeting at Northwind Architects on Seward Street Monday afternoon. Attendees were solicited for a $500 investment in founding member status. The investment includes a $250 lifetime membership, but no guarantee of return. Around 30 attended the event.

Patty Ware said she became involved because she uses the downtown grocer and she saw the importance of a grocer to her neighbors in the Willoughby District.

The “prospect of having a gaping hole in our downtown core really concerns me,” Ware said.

“It is really important to have a full service grocery store downtown,” Fisk said. “And we’ve got to step up.”

The closure of Alaskan and Proud in early September will affect more than downtown residents. Around 40 percent of Alaskan and Proud’s customers live in the Mendenhall Valley.

Fisk said a downtown grocer is part of both a vital downtown area and the food security of the entire town.

“We’ve seen an out-of-town operator fail with very little notice,” Fisk said. “To me that is a food security issue.”

The co-op’s next step will be based on the outcome of the market study.

“Do we have enough sales volume to pull this off,” Fisk said. However, the whole project could shift if the Foodland Center owners lease the grocery space.

The cooperative plans to pursue grants and personal and commercial loans for funding as well as a little professional help.

“We’re not grocers,” Patty Ware said. The market will be searching for a general manager.

Capital City Market founders say their business model is sound. As opposed to selling a particular type of goods, say organic only, plans call for the market to be full service.

Membership is open to anyone and all are welcome to shop at the cooperative market. Members receive the economic benefits of the cooperative. If the co-op makes money, members receive a dividend.

“Bottom line, we want to be the best store in Juneau,” Fisk said. The Foodland Center grocer that occupied the space before Alaskan and Proud “was a much better store,” Fisk said, “a much nicer place to go. We want to get back to that.”

For more information contact capitalcitymarketjuneau@gmail.com.

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

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