A co-op to call their own

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Grocery > LA market acquires building

By Gina Velasquez

Since the opening in 2011, the goal of the Los Alamos Co-op Market has been to cater to the community.
With the purchase of the building at 95 Entrada Dr., General Manager Steve Watts said that goal will continue. He said the community had a lot to do with purchasing the building.
The co-op has been leasing the building from Main Gate LLC since its opening and Main Gate was instrumental in providing the co-op with an affordable and timely option when the co-op was looking for a location nearly four years ago, with a ground-breaking in 2010. The building was purchased late last month for $1.65 million. “Overall, it was a smooth process,” Watts said.
The co-op board and Watts have worked on the purchase for approximately six months after determining that it would be in the best interest of the co-op member/owners to own rather than continue leasing.
“This move has improved our cash position,” Watts said. “Because of the improved situation we are able to repay member loans.” There are about 180 investors. Repayment of member loans begins in 2015.
Watts also said the growth of the business has exceeded their expectations. “Start ups can be rocky, but we have stabilized our position over the last three years,” he said. Watts recognizes that the first three years of any business are full of trials and tribulations.
The purchase and loan agreement were reviewed by the co-op attorney, and was evaluated by the COO of the National Cooperative Grocers Association.
According to a press release, there will be a substantial annual savings by owning the building, which will bolster the financial results the co-op has enjoyed since it opened.
The co-op strives to serve its community by offering an array of local, healthy and natural foods. “It is the community’s desire to have this type of business in Los Alamos,” Watts said. “Members are the core of our success.”
The co-op is not simply just a grocery store to buy organic and natural foods. It has also been a venue for community activities throughout the year. Watts and Outreach Coordinator Sandra West are proud of the events and opportunities for the people of Los Alamos. “We are looking forward to other changes and additions that are in the works,” Watts said.
The “Shop with a Chef” classes have offered healthy cooking classes from cooks and professional chefs around the area. The chefs have taught how to cook healthy food on a budget. “Those classes have been a success,” West said. “People value the experience and interactions with the chefs.” The plan is to continue the classes later this coming year.
The co-op offers expanded resources from using the café for meetings — as many people as the space allows, and free or low-cost discussions for and by the community to meet and learn.
West said plans are in the works to provide educational services linked to food and gardening.
“It is wonderful to see other groups connecting with each other and sharing ideas.”
The resources are currently being strengthened to involve nonprofit and volunteer programs.
An anniversary party is scheduled tentatively for March 1
The last “Shop with a Chef: Healthy Desserts for Kids,” by Jesse and Johanna Boudrea will be 6:30 tonight at the co-op. “
Cost is $15 or $20 for non-members.