PT Food Co-op

The Food Co-op, 414 Kearney Street, Port Townsend, 98368
Port Townsend
Phone: (360) 385-2883

Food Co-op Expansion Open House

by Lisa Barclay

Thanks to all who attended our open house on The Food Co-op’s expansion Tuesday, August 22. Members pored over the draft layout for the store and talked with General Manager Kenna Eaton and board members about the details. We appreciate your thoughtful questions as well as your support.

New Store Layout

Members were particularly interested in the plan to move the dining area to the front of the store. This change will enable us to relocate the Wellness Department to the main body of the store and it will also encourage people to pay for their food before they eat it. In addition, eliminating the deli cash register should help with the congestion around the deli case. We expect that both cashier fast lanes will be open at lunch time, which could make buying your deli purchases actually faster than now. There were some questions about the distance from the deli to the eating area, but such a separation is actually quite common and seems to work smoothly for other stores.

The Bulk Department will move into the current dining room and Wellness will use some of Bulk’s current space as well as the south entrance area, and the south door will be closed, allowing us to utilize all our space while keeping the expansion fairly small. 

The back rooms will be expanded, making them much more usable for storing product and stocking shelves. The staff is pretty happy to be getting a second bathroom, one they don’t have to share with maintenance! And the fish and meat department will move out of their closet-sized work space and out from under the feet of the deli and kitchen staff. Seafood will get its own case, and we’ll be able to offer more local meat, supporting local businesses.

We’ll be digging into the hill behind us a little and building a retaining wall, in order to have enough room for all our recycling, composting, and waste. It should be easier for staff to access and much tidier! But sorry, while we won’t be losing any parking spaces, we won’t be gaining any either. 

Finances

On the financial side, some members asked how much cash we have in the bank to weather any setbacks. We have well over a million dollars in the bank and the projections for this project never have us below twice the industry standard for cash on hand, so we have a wide margin to work with. We’ve been saving and planning for this expansion for years and we are being fiscally conservative. 

We were also asked why we aren’t getting our loan from a credit union, as a fellow cooperative. Our current loan is with Kitsap Bank, so any bank that wanted to loan us money would need to first buy that loan from Kitsap (because of how loan priorities work), which could be a convoluted, expensive prospect. Kitsap is a local, community-oriented bank, and while we haven’t negotiated a loan yet we think that keeping our loan with them will be the most favorable option for us. (In addition, credit unions are set up more for individual customers than for businesses, sort of the way The Food Co-op is mainly for consumers, not businesses.)

Timeline

We had hoped to break ground in November, but these things always take more time than you hope, and we still don’t have a frim fate set yet. We’ll probably start by constructing the new addition, and then we’ll work on the inside of the store, bit by bit. Our contractor has experience in these kinds of remodels, so while there are sure to be disruptions, they should be able to guide us through. And remember, we need you to keep shopping while the construction goes on! We can look at it as an adventure, imagining what is being built behind that plastic sheet or where the bread might be this week.

In the meantime, you can see a drawing of what the Co-op might look like, along with other materials about the expansion, in the dining room and on the website (under expansion updates). The plans are naturally subject to change, but they give us an idea of where we are headed, and it’s fun to look around the store and imagine what it will be like in a year. Thank you for all your support!

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