Food co-op opens in Carbondale | AspenTimes.com

Food co-op opens in Carbondale

CARBONDALE ” Whole Foods Market in Willits won’t be the first natural and organic food store to open in the midvalley.

After years of planning, the Carbondale Community Food Co-op finally will open Friday to the public. The store at 559 Main St. in Carbondale won’t be huge in terms of square footage, but it will offer a wide variety of products, manager Jess Jacobson said. Several farmers and ranchers in Paonia and elsewhere in western Colorado have signed on as providers.

The co-op emerged from a buyer’s club that has operated in Carbondale for several years. Members of that club paid a fee and received fresh produce and other products on a regular basis. It was time to take the idea to a broader audience.

“The community was asking for it,” Jacobson said.

The initial goal was to provide Carbondale residents with an opportunity to buy everything from organic, local produce, meat and eggs to herbal tinctures and homeopathics without driving to Glenwood Springs. But the founders sensed a greater demand from shoppers in El Jebel, Basalt and the rest of the midvalley. The store also will offer a fresh juice bar, 35 bulk bins, traditional grocery items and specialty products such as three-year aged miso and raw goat cheese.

The store will be open to the public at-large, not just members of the co-op. However, the co-op is like a healthy community ” it depends on participation to thrive. People who buy a member-share help select the board of directors, and they can influence management, Jacobson said. They are eligible to work at the store to earn discounts.

“I think people are really going to want to be members,” Jacobson said Monday while taking a break from helping to prepare the store for its grand opening. “I think it’s going to be the cool thing to do.”

The co-op isn’t profit-driven like a traditional grocery store, but it’s not a nonprofit, either. The initial plan is to give 20 percent of profits back to members through dividends. The other 80 percent of profits will be plowed back into the community through education and grants.

Jacobson said shoppers can expect “very competitive prices” with other grocers. Overall, she said, prices will be similar to those at City Market, the dominant chain in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Planning was well under way before Whole Foods announced in May it will open a store in Willits, Jacobson said. Whole Foods officials have said they probably won’t open their 44,000-square-foot store until early 2010.

Founders of the Carbondale food co-op discussed the Whole Foods issue and concluded it likely wouldn’t affect their operation, Jacobson said.

The Carbondale store will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. It will be closed on Sundays through the winter.

The store is celebrating its grand opening Friday, Feb. 1, from 5-7 p.m., with complimentary drinks and snacks.

Go to http://www.carbondalecommunityfoodcoop.org to learn more about the store and its memberships.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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