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Washington Voices

Work begins on Main Market

Thu., March 19, 2009

Cooperative expected to open in fall

Wednesday was one of those unseasonably cold days last week, but that didn’t put a damper on the spirit at the groundbreaking for the Main Market Cooperative.

The Main Market will go into the former Goodyear Tire store on the corner of West Main Avenue and Browne Street, and is expected to open this fall.

The Main Market Co-op is yet another offshoot from the Community Building – the brainchild of Jim Sheehan.

“When times are tough we are coming together as a group,” Sheehan said. “When you think of building community nothing supersedes food. Just think of when you are together with the people in your life.”

Sheehan said he’d love to see a Spokane version of the co-op in Ashland, Calif.

“It’s a dream for me to be able to bring this here,” Sheehan said. “The co-op is only a beginning.”

Jennifer M. Hall, the community food builder for Main Market, has been the driving force behind getting the co-op to this point.

“This will be a consumer food co-op,” she said. “A membership is not just a payment to get in the door, it’s an investment, you are an owner.”

The idea behind Main Market is to provide a retail outlet for local farmers, ranchers and fishermen who conduct their businesses in a sustainable manner.

“We want to make sure the profits stay local,” Hall said.

Designed by Patsy O’Connor and with Leone & Keeble as the general contractor, Main Market will be a green building after the same model as the Saranac Building, just across the street.

“It’s been a really long haul to get to this point, and there’s a lot more ahead,” said John Grollmus, president of the Main Market board of directors and co-owner of the Elk and other area restaurants. “I can’t thank Jim Sheehan enough. It takes a visionary to put the big ideas out there and back them up.”

For now, construction is the order of the day, as the 9,500-square-foot tire store is converted to a market place containing a deli, a commercial kitchen, a dining area and rentable freezer space.

A rooftop garden and greenhouse is also part of the plans.

You will not have to be a member to shop at the Main Market, but members will receive certain benefits such as special sales. A membership is $180 and a low-income membership is $75 – for an added $15, you can pay for your share over three years.

Once the Main Market opens, expect demonstrations by local farmers who grow special produce and crops, or from local bakers and restaurateurs.

“We want to keep the community really tight and support one another,” Hall said. “People will get a chance to meet the farmers. They are the super heroes in my mind, because they bring food to our tables.”

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