After several months of careful vetting, Granite City Grocery has decided not to pursue plans for a store at 159 N. Main Street in Barre. The historically significant former Homer Fitz building required significant renovation and a total re-imagining of the current parking lot and loading dock configurations. The GCG board and its team of advisors decided that, even with significant capital investment, the store would not be a viable long term home for a downtown grocery store, and has decided not to move forward with purchase plans.
GCG remains committed to finding a home in downtown Barre and is working with a commercial realtor and community leaders to explore potential locations. Reed Curry, President of the GCG Board of Directors, said the vetting of 159 N. Main Street has prepared the group to move quickly when an optimal site is identified: "Our financials look good, our membership is growing and our team knows what it will take to make our store work. With continued community support, GCG will become a reality when we find the right location. We need a space that looks like a grocery store, and that includes adequate free parking, and an easily accessible loading dock for deliveries. I can't stress the need for parking and access enough. We all know there aren't many existing sites in downtown Barre that fit those criteria. Part of our job is to look at what other start-up co-ops have done. You'd be surprised at the creative solutions out there," Curry said. "One of our sister co-ops had a local developer build a site for them to lease knowing what a boon the coop would be for the downtown. Now that's my dream scenario."
Granite City Grocery will be an economic driver for the downtown community when it opens. "At the end of each board meeting we ask our volunteers to imagine what our community will be like when we have a grocery store downtown," Curry said. "It's easy to imagine how the community will improve- access to fresh produce, full time jobs, more foot traffic for existing businesses. If you can imagine our downtown improving with a downtown grocery store, I ask you to invest in GCG and join 620 other community members by becoming a member today."
159 N. Main Street was the first location Granite City Grocery has pursued in-depth. "It was a competitive offer, the building had adequate square footage and it is located in our downtown footprint. It was worth pursuing and I am glad we did. Now we are better prepared to make the best decision for our store going forward," Curry said. "I am grateful to our team of advisors at the City, the Mayor's office, Downstreet and our coop start-up consultants at CDS Consulting for helping us work through this difficult decision. We are all committed to the project and excited to move forward."
Granite City Grocery will hold its annual meeting on June 29th. The meeting is open to the public and it will be a chance for the community to weigh in on the future of the store. "Bring your ideas," Curry said. "We want to hear your feedback and draw the community into the decision-making process."