March 2, 2018
ONE Update from our General Manager
In June 2016, the Co-op signed a lease agreement for a space at 242-244 North Winooski Avenue in the Old North End to explore the option for a smaller retail store. The idea was to provide a scaled down range of offerings across most of our departments including produce, grocery, beer and wine, wellness and prepared foods for Members and customers. The lease option on the storefront included paying rent through September of 2018 with an early exit option clause that required notification by the end of February 2018.
At this time, we have decided to activate the early exit clause in our lease agreement for the space in the Old North End. This means that we will plan to vacate the space within the next seven months, if not sooner, depending on whether a new tenant can be found.
We fully recognize and understand the importance of serving the Old North End community and returning to our roots. At the same time, we want to ensure that we are fiscally responsible at the Co-op serving over 13,000 Members.
The South End expansion is the first such project for the Co-op since the Downtown store opened almost 15 years ago. We have gained invaluable insights from this project, and like many co-ops that expand, we expect that it will take several years for us to return to profitability. Through January 2018, the South End store is performing better than projected and we remain grateful for the support of our Members and the broader community and for the amazing commitment and hard work of our staff.
Between the Downtown and the South End stores, we have over 100 new staff members (and more to hire!) that we need to train, so that we can consistently provide amazing service and an inclusive and diverse workplace culture. It will take time to fully transition and settle into being a two-store Co-op. And we want to make sure we are thoughtful, intentional and diligent with this process and realize that this means pausing on expansion into the Old North End.
Regarding any future expansion plans, whether into the Old North End or other areas in or outside of Burlington, we will continue to assess our internal capacity and resources, general financials, market studies and understanding community needs. Further, the ways in which we expand may indeed take on different forms and services than building and/or leasing additional new locations. While our intent is to remain financially viable and sustainable for our Members (and to continue to support the larger community), we also want to ensure that we are meeting the needs of communities that have less access to healthy, affordable food options. Our decision matrix for future growth will include these and many other priorities and we will share any future plans as they arise.
Old North End Expansion Update
We presented a recommendation about our Old North End (ONE) plans to our Board of Directors in October. This recommendation reviewed our extensive due diligence with financial data and estimates of associated expenses and store sales for a potential ONE store, the South End store and their impacts with our current downtown store. In light of the significant financial investment, time and resources needed to successfully open the South End store, the Board authorized my recommendation to “hold and assess” the ONE site. This means that we will hold the ONE site by paying rent on it until the spring of 2018. At that point we will assess our South End store performance and see whether it makes sense to move forward with ONE store development.
We recognize and share the tremendous level of Member enthusiasm and support for a ONE store. However, the initial transition from one to two stores is something that many co-ops have struggled with and we need to ensure we’re doing this well before committing to further expansions. Rest assured that we are doing everything we can to successfully establish the South End store so we can progress with expansion in the ONE.
June 8, 2016
City Market Considers Expansion in Burlington’s Old North End
Co-op considers location on North Winooski Avenue
Burlington’s community-owned food cooperative is considering expansion into the city’s Old North End. For many years, Members have asked the Co-op to open a City Market in this area of town that’s part of the Co-op’s over 43-year history.
The auto parts store located at 242-244 North Winooski Avenue (next to the Central Market and across from the McClure Multigenerational Center) closed several months back and the property is currently for lease. This spring, City Market worked with a consultant to forecast potential sales for a Co-op at this location and has been working closely with Redstone, who recently purchased the building.
City Market has tentatively signed a lease agreement with Redstone on this space. This agreement gives City Market’s management team until October 24, 2016 to conduct some additional due diligence before committing to the full term of the lease. The space at 242-244 North Winooski Avenue includes 6,000 square feet upstairs with an additional 6,000 square feet in the basement and a 2,000 square foot outbuilding. If City Market were to move forward with this location, they anticipate opening as early as the fall of 2017, following the planned grand opening of the South End store.
City Market’s General Manager, John Tashiro, shares his excitement for this potential next phase of expansion. “Our Members have been clear that they’d like us to have a presence in Burlington’s Old North End and we’re eager to complete our due diligence on this new location. Redstone has been a great partner in the process of exploring how this location could be beneficial to our Members. They’ve also been responsive to our need for a flexible timeline, given all the current work we’re doing on our South End plans as well.”
Allison Hope (formerly Weinhagen)
Director of Community Engagement
About City Market, Onion River Co-op: The Onion River Co-op is a consumer cooperative, with over 11,600 Members, selling wholesome food and other products while building a vibrant, empowered community and a healthier world, all in a sustainable manner. Located in downtown Burlington, Vermont, City Market provides a large selection of local, organic, and conventional foods and thousands of Vermont-made products. Visit City Market, Onion River Co-op online at www.citymarket.coop or call 802-861-9700.