Local food enthusiasts eager to embrace a downtown market will have to wait a bit longer before they can begin shopping.
Organizers have turned their eyes across the street to a bigger space at the corner of Browne and Main as the home for the new Main Market Co-op, which was originally expected to open this fall.
Main Market is now slated for the current Goodyear tire shop, 44 W. Main Ave. It was originally planned in a smaller storefront on the south side of the street at 17 W. Main Ave.
Jennifer Hall, organizer for the effort, says they made the switch after tire shop owners renegotiated their lease to leave earlier. Philanthropist Jim Sheehan, Community Building founder and visionary for the project, owns both buildings.
“It was just ludicrous not to take advantage of that option,” Hall says.
The new location offers many advantages: It’s a high-profile corner that will give the co-op an extra 2,500 square feet, free parking for its customers, and more space for landscaping and street trees.
Plans call for remodeling the existing Goodyear building into a 9,500-square-foot grocery and deli that would promote local and sustainable foods. The co-op would also include a dining area with a long “community table,” a commercial kitchen, a place to find and order custom meat from local ranchers, as well as rentable freezer lockers for urban dwellers who don’t have space in their apartments or condos.
Construction is expected to begin in early 2009, with an opening date sometime in the fall.
“That location makes asking people to contribute to the project so much easier because the success of the investment is now undeniable,” Hall says. “I honestly believe that the return on investment in this location will come much quicker.”
The southern exposure of the store has restored visions for a rooftop garden. The roof of the original location now is expected to be eclipsed by a building planned for property to the south.
In the meantime, the Main Market’s nine-member board of directors has been meeting weekly to work on the co-op’s business paperwork and mission statement. They launched a membership drive in September and hope to attract 500 members and $300,000 before the end of the year.
Shoppers won’t have to be members of Main Market, but members will receive benefits that others don’t, such as: members-only sales; a monthly e-newsletter that includes seasonal recipes and announcements for new products and co-op events; free and discounted classes and events; freezer locker and case discounts; and a patronage refund when the store is profitable.
A general membership to the co-op is $180 and a low-income membership is $75. There is a $15 administrative fee added for those who choose a three-year payment plan for the membership fee rather than paying up front.
Hall says there is also a limited number of charter memberships available for an additional $100. Those donors would be recognized on a permanent display in the new market. The co-op also hopes to attract business partners to help sponsor some features of the store, such as the rooftop garden.
Memberships, along with information about benefits and plans for Main Market, are available online at www.mainmarket.coop. Click on “Build” for more information.
While the co-op is still under construction, Hall says they’ll continue to offer classes and events such as the “In the Field” tours of local farms that were held this summer and fall.
The next event planned is a tasting with Lone Canary winemaker Mike Scott on Dec. 10. Details will be posted on the Main Market site when they are finalized.
Main Market has also partnered with The Saranac Art Project to host an exhibition called “Art Feeds the Homeless.” The display includes works from Harrell Fletcher and Marc Dombrosky at the nonprofit studio at 25 W. Main Ave. It will be on display through Dec. 27.
They’re encouraging people to bring a canned food donation when they visit the gallery, which is open 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and during First Friday events downtown.