By David Lester, General Manager
On January 2, 2015 the Co-op took possession of the Cutting building next door to our current store location. This purchase solidifies our commitment to the downtown district for many years to come and will offer many exciting opportunities for our Co-op’s future.
Members, Ellen and Craig Cutting, purchased this building over 30 years ago, and we knew that the opportunity to purchase this building would not come around very often. Acquiring this building on contract is an affordable way for us to take our time to build our cash and do the research and planning needed to use this building as best as we can. Our recent customer/member survey is giving us a lot of good feedback and direction for this project. This data will help us shape the direction of our store for the next three years and gives our Leadership Team and me ideas to try in our current work. Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey.
The big questions I am often asked are “when are we going to expand?” and “what will the new building space have in it?” The current answer to the first question is that we are looking at starting an expansion project sometime in the summer of 2016. This will give us enough time to build our cash sufficiently so that we do not have to do member loans, and it will help us keep any bank loans to a minimum amount to pay for the expansion project.
We have two excellent tenants in the upstairs apartments. This rental income helps considerably with our monthly contract payments. This time schedule should also give us sufficient time to get the right people to help us plan this project. The answer to the second question is a little hard to answer at the moment, but we do know that we want to open up as much of the wall between the two buildings, expand our Café/Deli, expand our Café/Deli seating area, and offer more locally produced items like meat, produce and other items.
The good news is that half of the expansion project is already done…and paid for! We renovated the east half of the building in September 2014 and created the Co-op Kitchen Classroom. Classes for all ages and cooking skills have been happening (check out our website or this issue of the SCOOP for full class listings). This space continues to get used by groups and organizations looking to improve team building and cooking skills. I am thrilled to see the positive response in our community to learn more about whole foods from farm to table.
Eventually, we need adequate and expanded office space for our staff to do their work. The upstairs half of this building will provide that type of space for new offices and many of our basement offices will be transformed into walk-in cooler and freezer space as our business grows. This is all really good stuff and we are focusing on growth that will provide more opportunities for local farmers and producers.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have about our expansion when you see me in the store, or email me at: gm@ oneotacoop.com, or come to a Board meeting which takes place the fourth Tuesday of every month in the new Co-op Kitchen Classroom. Hope to see you soon!