Co-op marks milestone

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With hundreds gaining membership, the health food store breaks ground

By Carol A. Clark

Members and friends of the Los Alamos Cooperative Market reached a big milestone Friday with the groundbreaking ceremony on its property in the Entrada Business Park.

The intent of the co-op market is to serve Los Alamos County and the surrounding communities by providing fairly priced, wholesome foods and other goods in an ecologically sustainable, socially responsible and economically appropriate manner, according to its mission statement.

Another aspect of the co-op’s mission is to strive to develop healthy food awareness through educating members on sustainable best practices and support for non-toxic, sustainable agriculture.

The co-op’s first board election was held in the spring of 2009. Nancy Savoia was elected president; Karen Kendall was elected vice president; Andrew Erickson was elected secretary; Kathy Campbell was elected treasurer and Paul Frederickson, Cecile Hemez, Marguerite McClay and Jane Riese were elected directors.

The group has worked since 2006 to bring the co-op to Los Alamos.

Main Gate LLC partners Rick Reiss and Sam Gardner attended Friday’s groundbreaking celebration. They made the arrangements for the co-op, Entrada Business Park and Holiday Inn Express to sponsor Gordon’s Concerts as part of the overall event. They also participated in the groundbreaking ceremony. Reiss and his wife, Debbie said that when they joined the

co-op four years ago, neither could have guessed that they would be building the co-op.

The co-op has accumulated more than 450 members, she said, adding that to date, the organization has raised $776,200 in member loans.

“We need to raise an additional $324,000 to make our goal,” Kendall said. “We now have another exciting way in which members can participate in the efforts to raise the money to open the store. Our bylaws allow for the issuance of member investment certificates, which is equity and as such is subordinate to all debt of the co-op. The certificates are issued in $20 increments with a maximum investment of $10,000.”

At the board of directors’ discretion, certificates may earn dividends, she said, adding that once the co-op has sufficient profits, the certificates are redeemable.

The Los Alamos Cooperative Market is incorporated as a New Mexico Cooperative Association under Chapter 53, Article IV of NMSA 1978. Unlike most corporations, which have stockholders who own the business, the Los Alamos co-op is a non-stock membership organization in which its members hold equitable ownership collectively.

“We are forming committees to help get the store up and running,” Kendall said. “Many of our members have expressed their willingness to expend some sweat equity to make this store a reality. There will be many opportunities for our members to help and our next newsletter will describe how to volunteer.”

Kendall outlined three categories of involvement:

• Member outreach and volunteer coordination — representing the co-op at public functions; working with the media to get our message out there, and coordinating volunteer work teams;

• Fundraising and financing — Planning and organizing financing; reviewing the project budget and coordinating with the builder and developer; and

• Project oversight and equipment purchasing — Overseeing and coordinating tenant improvements, equipment installation and outfitting of the store.

For additional information or to join the co-op, contact Kendall at 412-3793, e-mail vicepresident@lacoopmarket.com or visit the co-op Web site at www.lacoopmarket.com.

Monitor Community Editor Kirsten Laskey contributed to this story.