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After five years of work, the Los Alamos Co-op Market was able to officially open its doors to the community during a grand opening celebration Saturday morning.
VaLynn Purvis of Party 2 Go set up a Jolly Jumper outside the store and vendors sold everything from cinnamon bread to scented lotions.
Despite all the festivities, the employees of the market seemed to just take pleasure in the fact that the store has now officially opened.
“It’s been satisfying. We’ve been waiting for this for five years … it’s been a long wait,” Tim Morrison, front-end manager, said.
“It’s been a lot of work but it’s definitely worthwhile,” he added.
There were obstacles to overcome to get the market open such as finding a suitable location, which was one of the main reasons the project took five years. Board Vice President Karen Kendall told the Los Alamos Monitor in March that the co-op board looked at spaces downtown, was involved for a year in the 15th and Trinity project, which did not come to fruition, and then looked at downtown spaces again before choosing the current Entrada location.
The co-op leases its 7,000 square foot location from Main Gate, LLC, which built the Entrada Business Park.
Steve Watts, manger of the co-op market, shared Morrison’s excitement. “It’s a great feeling to finally have our grand opening today,” Watts said.
Business has been doing well since the market had its soft opening in March, he added.
“We’ve been exceeding expectations. We feel we are on the right growth pattern,” Watts said.
He said eight new employees have been added in order to keep up with the level of business and the membership has doubled; there are now almost 1,500 members.
Several customers at the co-op Saturday praised the market.
“I think it’s beautiful,” Janet Harris of Los Alamos said. She added she recently became a vegan so the market “is an answer to my prayers” as far as offering vegan-friendly foods.
Harris said, “This is what we need in Los Alamos.”
Rosemary Shugar said Saturday marked only her second time in the market but “I love it because there’s such a variety of things.”
She commented the market has everything from cosmetics to food, adding that she particularly liked the loose nuts and grains section and the pre-made food section.
Employee David Rael summed up the mood at the grand opening. Having the grand opening, he said, “feels good.”
According to the Los Alamos Co-op Market website, the project started in 2006 when petitions were gathered to have La Montañita Co-op open a branch in Los Alamos. The cooperative was not interested in expanding to Los Alamos but said it would support Los Alamos opening its own cooperative market.
As a result, an interim board was formed and a membership drive netted 100 members in the fall of 2006. In 2009, a permanent board of directors was elected and in April 2009, Rick Reiss and Sam Gardner of Main Gate, LLC, suggested the board consider locating the market at Entrada.
The board accepted the recommendation and a groundbreaking ceremony took place June 4, 2010, at the east end of the Los Alamos Airport. Meanwhile, a membership-loan program kicked off and raised $1,018,610.
The market is located at 95 Entrada Drive, near the Holiday Inn Express. Hours are 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.