Capitol Hill’s cooperative grocery store, Central Co-op, has announced a proposed plan to merge with Tacoma Food Co-op, according to a statement from the organizations released Monday.
If you’re a shopper at the 16th and Madison or Tacoma markets, don’t freak out. This doesn’t appear to be a deal cut from the same cloth as KUOW’s takeover of KPLU.
“As a community-owned business, we believe that people are stronger when they act together,” Central Co-op board president Dean Decrease said in the statement. “Central Co-op and Tacoma Food Co-op share the same values and the same vision for a sustainable food system and a cooperative economy. The world of natural foods is increasingly competitive and if we combine our efforts together both stores will be much better positioned to thrive going forward. This will mean more good jobs, community ownership and local-control.”
According to the announcement, Tacoma Food Co-op opened four years ago and has struggled with costs. “Together the two stores will be able to share a depth of administrative resources, spread out the costs of doing business, enjoy greater buying power, put collective strength into growing the cooperative movement, and contribute to the local economy by offering jobs with exemplary pay and benefits while supporting regional producers,” the announcement reads.
Central Co-op, on the other hand, has been in operation on Capitol Hill for 40 years and just signed a 20-year lease with another 20-year option, according to a spokesperson. The store has also reportedly “improved sales growth year-over-year for the last three years.”
The spokesperson said the merger would allow the markets “to share a depth of administrative resources, spread out the costs of doing business, enjoy greater buying power, put collective strength into growing the cooperative movement, and contribute to the local economy by offering jobs with exemplary pay and benefits while supporting regional producers.”
A majority of votes by members at both cooperatives will be required to authorize any merger plan.
In 1999, Central Co-op moved into the newly constructed building at 16th and Madison as the first and only commercial tenant in the space. The co-op got its start more than 20 years earlier on 12th Ave where it operated until the late 90s move. In late 2011, CHS reported on the cooperative’s success in paying off loans for constructing its new home and moving forward under the updated Central Co-op brand. It currently boasts more than 13,000 members.
While online shopping has eroded many aspects of traditional retail, even the presence in Seattle of deep investment in ventures like Amazon Fresh hasn’t seemed to take the shine off the economic opportunity around Central Seattle grocery store development. The next big grocery investment in the area is expected to come at Broadway and Madison where Whole Foods will be at the center of a 16-story mixed-use development expected to open in late 2017/early 2018.
Central Co-op is a CHS advertiser.