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Spreading the news about Los Alamos Cooperative Market

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By Kirsten Laskey

After a year and a half of work, the Los Alamos Cooperative Market has some big news to share. The announcement will occur during its first annual cooperative membership meeting at 6:15 p.m. Sunday at the Betty Ehart Senior Center.Besides the announcement, the meeting will provide live music by the Roaring Jellies and a potluck dinner.Along with a dish, participants are encouraged to bring the recipe, which will be put into a cooperative cookbook. The public is welcome to attend.So what is the big news? After almost a year of work, the market is almost a reality.The purpose of the meeting, said Nancy Savoia, interim president of the co-op, is to “inform members of the co-op as well as perspective members of the program of the progress we are making.”The progress that has been made toward the goal of opening a natural food store in Los Alamos includes working with a realtor to identify a good location for the store, said Marguerite McClay, interim secretary.The cooperative has also received advice, documents and support from the La Montanita, a pre-exisiting cooperative in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, McClay said.“We are all very pleased with the progress we are making and we’re still moving forward with our plans to open a co-op,” Savoia said. “We have 300 members so far and we would like to increase membership.”To gain more members, people already involved in the program are encouraged to bring friends who are interested in the program to the meeting, she said.Also during the meeting, participants will be introduced to the member loan program. Savoia said there will be a presentation about low interest loans for members.She added the group is working with Los Alamos National Bank to get financial support for the market.The cooperative market, Savoia explained, will be open to the public but is owned by the members.McClay explained members will elect a board of directors to ensure the store is run according to cooperative principals, which are voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, members’ economic participation, autonomy and independence, cooperation among cooperatives, and concern for community.Although the members will own the store, a manager and employees will be hired to run the store, Savoia said.Members are also working to partner with local growers in Espaola and the Rio Grande Valley to sell their products at the store.Members are also working with the Sostenga, which serves as a center for collaboration and research and supports projects that foster sustainable living.The center has teamed with the cooperative to promote healthy eating, healthy lifestyles and workforce development.The store will not just offer produce, said Beata Vixie, cooperative interim vice president; it will also offer beauty products, vitamins and a deli section.The public can shop in the store but members will be given certain advantages.They will be presented with special discounts and sales, Savoia said.Vixie said they hope to eventually give a patronage refund to members.Members are a necessary part of the cooperative, Savoia said.“We will be able to gain funds to open the store,” she said. “Without members, this will not happen.”For a one-time, lifetime membership, the cost is $250, or there is an annual fee of $30, which is renewable every year. The cooperative would be a benefit to the town because it would satisfy a need, Vixie said.“There is a need ee many families drive to Santa Fe for natural organic stuff,” she said. “I just think it’s a general need of this town.”Savoia added, “Because the store is going to be community owned, I think it gives shoppers availability to give input on what they would like in the store.”This is an option, she said, that isn’t offered at many big chain stores.Additionally, many people seem interested in having a cooperative in Los Alamos.Just looking at the number of members, Savoia said, “The public has obviously responded by their membership.”Many local businesses have also offered support, she said. For more information about the cooperative, go to www.lacoopmarket.com.