Carbondale residents feasting on Food Co-Op |

Carbondale residents feasting on Food Co-Op

Gregory Conroy
Carbondale correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE ” The Carbondale Community Food Co-op, open just three months or so, has proven popular ” so much so that it’s ready to expand.

The store will increase its inventory and staff and, possibly, extend its hours of operation, but for now, it will do so within the small confines of its existing 600-square-foot quarters.

“We’re doing so amazingly well, we’re doubling our produce section,” said Jess Jacobson, president of the food co-op’s board of directors. Though seemingly maxed out in terms of space inside the store, Jacobson said the co-op will add roughly $2,000 worth of inventory, along with additional shelving and staffers.

“New stuff is coming in already,” Jacobson said, plugging the season’s first batch of fresh asparagus, which recently arrived from produce supplier TLc Greenhouse in Paonia, Colo.

The expansion is a response to the desires of co-op members ” people who have a say in the operation by virtue of their membership, Jacobson said. And, since the co-op opened in February, 200 members have joined and more are signing up all the time, she added.

Given the growth, the co-op’s board and members may consider a larger space in the former Carbondale Elementary School building, which will soon house various community concerns.

In the meantime, the co-op’s plan for its existing space at 559 Main St. also includes adding a cooler, doubling its dry produce bins and bringing on more help.

New positions will include a general manager and assistant manager. Knowledge of the local produce and sustainable food market is key as the co-op looks to fill those jobs, Jacobson stressed.

More working members are also welcome, Jacobson said. They receive substantial discounts on their co-op groceries, along with wages.

The store’s hours of operation may also increase ” from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ” but that is up to a vote of the co-op’s membership.

“One of the biggest questions I get is ‘what do I get with being a member,'” Jacobson said. Membership means one gets to be a part of a business that contributes to localization and striving toward a sustainable food market, she explained.

Members also receive a dividend check at the end of the year; 20 percent of the receipts goes back to the members while the other 80 percent gets put back into the co-op.

For shoppers, the co-op is facilitating the purchase of groceries and produce more frequently and in smaller quantities, given its convenient, downtown location, according to Jacobson

“I think we’ll be in over our heads in business this summer,” Jacobson said. The popular juice bar is probably going to need a full-time juicer, for one, she said.

The success was unexpected, given the timing of the co-op’s winter opening, Jacobson said.

“We opened at an odd time. I thought we’d hit our stride in June, but we hit our stride since the day it opened.”

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