by Timothy Rutt
After five years of meeting, planning, and organizing, the Arroyo Food Co-op (Altadenablog sponsor) has signed a lease on a site in Pasadena, and has started a capital campaign to finally open 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 lease the former George's Market at 494 N. Wilson Avenue. The approximately 4,900 square-foot building is at the corner of Wilson and Villa Street
"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,” said co-op president Tricia Keane said in a press release. “We 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 for—and then some. This is truly an exciting time to be part of the Arroyo Food Co-op.”
The press release says that:
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-op’s 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.
Patrick Reagan, o-op CFO and founder, said in the release: “This wonderful site, the strong health of the Co-op’s finances, and the promising response we’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 community’s continued support, we’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.”
The co-op, formally established as a California Consumer Cooperative Corporation in 2009, says it is an alternative to corporate-owned grocers, and it 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 for the site.
Membership to the co-op is $300, which can be paid in installments of as little as $30 a year. Member-owners receive additional benefits, including patronage refunds during profitable years. Everybody, not just members, is free to shop at the co-op.
For more information about the Co-op’s location, its capital campaign (including how to make a loan) and becoming a member, visit www.arroyofoodcoop.com.
More views of the market site are available here.