A group of residents from the Stapleton neighborhood announced plans to open a community-owned natural grocery store in Aurora’s Westlerly Creek Village development.
Plans are underway for a 10,000-square-foot co-op called Nourish Community Market that will be on the ground-floor of a new mixed-used development, The Heights of Westerly Creek, at 2352 Dallas St.
Co-op grocery stores were popular in the 1970s. But the last one in metro Denver, the Common Market, closed in the 1980s, said Kim Soko Schaefer, spokeswoman for the co-op.
Meanwhile the rise of natural food grocery store chains began. But when the group of Stapleton neighborhood residents approached Whole Foods, Sprouts and other natural food grocers for a store in their neck of the woods, they were told there were no plans to open stores in that area, Soko Schaefer said.
“So, we said, let’s do it our selves,” she said.
Now, there are plans for three co-op grocery stores in metro Denver – Westwood Food Co-op, expected to open this year, and West Colfax Food Co-op, which has just incorporated and is in the planning stages.
“Food security was identified as a most pressing concern,” said Thomas Spahr, chairman of Nourish Community Market. “This is part of the response. People are taking action.”
The Nourish Community Market co-op group has been quietly working on the plan for two years, since it incorporated. Nourish Community Market now has about 775 founding members, each who anted up $200. Now, the group is on a membership drive to double.
The co-op is planning a capital fund-raising drive with the target goal of $1.5 million and a store-opening date in 2018.
“Truly, it will be a unique space and have a different focus than any grocery store in the metro Denver,” Spahr said. “We will be competitive from a price stand point. What we are going after is having more flexibility to work with small farmers and local producers.”
Co-ops are a centuries-old business-model catching a new wave of interest.They are businesses owned by and operated by employees or by those using the services. Profits and earnings are distributed among the members. And members have voting power in the business.