There are 643 members of Granite City Grocery today, and we all are anxious to see our store open its doors. Our membership has grown each year and our Site Committee has been working with property owners, realtors, architects and engineers, as well as Downstreet Housing & Community Development, to identify a location in downtown that meets our 4 primary needs. They wouldn’t be hard to meet if the store was going to be outside downtown; but our goal is to open a grocery store for all in downtown Barre.
The site for our store needs to have (1) sufficient space (8,000 to 11,000 square feet or possibly more); (2) adequate free parking that is easily accessible from major streets and the store; (3) good access for the many trucks and tractor trailers that will deliver to the store daily; and (4) it needs to be walkable for the folks who live, work and/or shop in downtown.
Our Active Site Committee
Every site that becomes available is considered by the experts on our Site Committee. They also are looking beyond the obvious; working with property owners, developers and Downstreet to find creative solutions to meet the challenges of opening a grocery store in a downtown. The Morrisville, VT and Keene, NH food co-ops both found unusual solutions that got them where they are today, for instance. We are excited about the proposals the Committee is considering now, and confident we have the right people in place devoting their efforts to finding us a location. They are working pro-bono – as are all the members of the Board -- another indication of their commitment.
The Site & Membership Connection
We were prepared to commit to the property at 159 N. Main Street (formerly P&S Furniture), but the site was subsequently determined to be not viable. We still are ready to commit to the right location. At the same time, we need to continue to grow our membership. The banks consider a healthy, growing membership to be a key indicator of credit worthiness. For this reason, we need to be at 800 or more members when we pursue financing for the site. Site search and membership growth move forward in tandem to reach the same goal.
Achieving these two goals will mark the start of our national search for a General Manager. The GM’s role is to help organize before the building is move-in ready, consult on the overall design, supervise hiring, etc.
This number is certainly attainable. Like us, each of you probably know several people who‘ve said they would join…later. If you are a member, please tell others why you joined and that now is the time for them to join, too. If you are not a member, join now!
It’s Up to All of Us!
This is a community effort. The members own the co-op, and we can only move forward as new members join. Taking a “wait and see” position only slows the progress and puts the responsibility for what we all want on the shoulders of our friends and neighbors who already joined.