Thursday, June 22, 2017 This Week's Paper

Open for Business

// Food Co-op to open this month.

On Aug. 26, the highly anticipated Tacoma Food Co-op will finally open its doors.

After a hiccup in contract negotiations with the location’s landlord, the Co-op is moving forward with setting up shop for its Aug. 26 opening date.

And as always, they are still seeking new member-owners to help fill the gap with the last $20,000 goal for the month.

“Our original plan was opening the first of August. The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster with some unexpected negotiations with store owner John Loesch,” said Co-op Board President Corrine Henderson. “So we’ve decided to come up with an additional $20,000 in capital to ensure John we have enough of a cash cushion to come through.”

Henderson and Loesch signed the lease on Aug. 5, and the deal will officially close Aug. 19.

When the Co-op opens, visitors will notice a more open feel to the store than the old Neighborhood Market, with fresh baked goods, certified local organic produce and bulk food items on display.

Shelves will be lined with the likes of more than 50 local vendors, such as coffee from Tacoma’s own Valhalla and Bluebeard, Four Sisters Gourmet Sauces of Burien, juices from Columbia Gorge, and Fresh Breeze Organic milk from Lynden.

“We’re putting a strong focus on fresh,” said General Manager Henri Parren.

The Co-op will not be 100 percent complete on opening day. Like any good Co-op, the store is a representation of its members, a culture that will take time to develop.

“It’s by the people for the people. You take on the personality of the city and you do that with interactions with member-owners. They create the dynamic of the store. As we start to set up, it’s really an ongoing process of developing that personality and defining that personality,” Parren said. “Opening is the first goal and perfecting will be following after that.”

Owner-members can start out by making a $100 investment through the Co-op’s website, and after becoming members, are able to help the Co-op progress even further.

Anyone can shop at the Co-op, and prices will remain the same for members and non-members, but members get a say in how the operation is run, as well as get money back at the end of the year through a patronage dividend, much like REI.

There will also be in-store, members-only specials, as well as classes and events restricted to members.

“We want to make becoming a member-owner financially attractive, but really, you do it from your heart.” Parren said. “You’re belonging to a community with belonging to a co-op. It’s all about sharing and gathering, where food is kind of the central theme.”

A grand opening celebration is scheduled for Sept. 10, at a point when the Co-op has worked out some of its kinks and has been able to start its development as an operating shop responsive to its members.

So far, the Co-op has raised a quarter of what is needed for the last $20,000 to open. Any new members will greatly help the Co-op reach its opening day without a hitch.

Those interested in becoming a member can go online to to find more information or to sign up. A casual question and answer session is scheduled from 5-6 p.m. on Aug. 15 at Bluebeard Coffee (2201 6th Ave.) with a member meeting to follow.

Tacoma Food Co-op will open to the public Aug. 26 at 3002 6th Avenue. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.