The Community Mercantile Inc., a member-owned grocery cooperative, has raised enough money to sign a lease on the 10,000-square-foot building at 901 Miss.
Jeff Helkenn, manager of the $800,000 project to lease and remodel the building, said the co-op, which currently has a store at 700 Maine, will open at the new location Feb. 1.
Community Mercantile members will celebrate the lease signing with a tailgate party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot at the new location. Helkenn said neighborhood residents and members of the community are welcome to attend the event, which will feature musical performers and other entertainers as well as samples of the natural foods sold by the co-op.
Helkenn noted, however, that the move into the larger building will allow the co-op to expand its merchandise. Currently, the co-op sells only natural or organic foods and products but will operate as a full-line grocery store at the new location.
KROEGER'S Country Meats of Lecompton will operate a meat concession inside the store, and the Amazing Grains baking collective, which sells its products through the current co-op store, will provide baked goods at the new location.
The co-op, which now employs 28 people, will employ 50 to 60 people after the move, Helkenn said.
Although the co-op is nearing its fund-raising goal for the project, Helkenn said the effort to raise money is continuing.
So far, Helkenn said, the co-op has raised $53,000 through the sale of $75 lifetime memberships toward a goal of $57,500. Members also have purchased $110,000 in certificates of deposit that the co-op can use as collateral for loans. The goal is $150,000 in CDs.
The balance of the money needed for the project will come from loans from the National Cooperative Bank Development Assn. in Washington, D.C., and the North Country Cooperative Development Fund in Minneapolis.