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Central Co-op says lease issues behind Tacoma closure

A Central Co-op checker

A Central Co-op checker

Only months after merging with the grocery cooperative, Central Co-op announced Monday it has closed Tacoma’s Central Co-op 6th Ave location after after what it says was a protracted and ultimately unsuccessful negotiation on a new lease:

Dear South-Sound Owners and Community,

Effective July 18, 2016, the Central Co-op 6th Avenue site in Tacoma is closed for business and a search for a new location in the Tacoma area has been initiated. Our Board of Trustees made this decision after months of lease negotiations failed to produce a mutually agreeable set of terms between the landlord and the Cooperative. The closure of the 6th Avenue location is a sad and unexpected turn of events. After years of operating at this location, we were confident that all parties could come to an agreement that would benefit our business, our membership, and the property owner. We continued negotiations until we realized that a solution was beyond our reach and made the decision to close in order to give ourselves time to exit in a responsible manner. Our team is actively evaluating other sites in the Tacoma area with plans to re-open.

Our union contract with UFCW Local 367 includes language for closure and layoffs that will guide our process with the staff of the 6th Avenue location.

We remain committed to our South-Sound membership. Our Co-op’s staff and trustees are focused on finding a new location for our Tacoma operations. Throughout this process we will continue to serve our South-Sound community with events, community partnerships, and regular Co-op news updates.

We will also remain active on this Facebook page. If you have questions, please email

Thank you for supporting Central Co-op,

Dean DeCrease
Central Co-op Board Chair

Dan Arnett
Central Co-op President and CEO

“Our team is actively evaluating other sites in the Tacoma area with plans to re-open,” the Central Co-op statement says.

The announcement comes after December’s vote to merge the longtime Capitol Hill cooperative with the Tacoma organization that reportedly struggled with costs operating over its five years in the south Puget Sound city.

Central Co-op has been in operation on Capitol Hill for 40 years and last year signed a 20-year lease with another 20-year option. In 1999, Central Co-op moved into the newly constructed building at 16th and Madison. The co-op got its start more than 20 years earlier on 12th Ave where it operated until the late 90s move. It is currently vying against Portland-based New Seasons to win the deal to be the anchor tenant in the commercial development underway around Capitol Hill Station. The campaign most recently drew support from Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brien.

Central Co-op in its statement attempted to separate its Capitol Hill Station quest from the issues in Tacoma. On its Facebook page, a sad patron asked, “So we will definitely get our coop back before you keep working on expanding to a 2nd Seattle location, right?”

“As we look for a location, we will seek improved accessibility for the membership and we will engage in rigorous analysis when settling on a specific neighborhood,” the official reply reads.

UPDATE: CEO Dan Arnett tells CHS that though the Tacoma site has closed, Central Co-op has been on the hunt for a new Tacoma location for some time and plans to re-open as soon when a suitable location is found.

He also said the situation should not cause any issues with the Capitol Hill store.

“It’s not going to have any kind of an impact on what’s going on at our 1600 store,” said Arnett.

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4 thoughts on “Central Co-op says lease issues behind Tacoma closure

  1. “It’s not going to have any kind of an impact on what’s going on at our 1600 store,” said Arnett. Yeah, Arnett, that’s why the Tacoma store failed — you made no effort to create any solidarity or interdependence with the Tacoma store. The fact that you are laying off the workers rather than putting them on furlough — or offering jobs in Seattle — shows your lack of commitment to the south sound community. And, your inability to run two stores also illustrates why the Central Co-op should not be the anchor store at the Light Rail Station on Broadway.

  2. Central coop management is a joke. Considering there was almost no communication offered to employees or members about what the actual terms of the merger and employee/ownership would be despite the fact that they were overly insistent about making sure we voted on the merger. As for the store closing people were given no notice that it would happen, in fact pallets arrived at the 1600 location with no notice from what I’ve heard. There is no oversight of anything at that place and management refuses to hold anyone accountable for anything, including food safety, seriously city of seattle, inspect this place. If this place had investors instead of employee/community owners that held people accountable the entire management would be gone. Coop and solidarity in marketing only.

  3. As central coop (Madison Market) kept increasing the pay of its managerial team over the last decade they have become farther and farther out of touch with what a co op is let alone what they are doing. The Tacoma closure was a coup, literally, as most basic co op principles were blatantly disregarded. There is a meeting in Tacoma at 710 S. Anderson St., at the old Epworth Lasourd church – now the Tacoma Musical Playhouse “Spire” where they community will come together to try to get questions answered and forge a path forward with or without Central Coop now that they have suddenly dismantled decades of hard work to get the Tacoma coop up and going. So far there is no indication anyone from Central Coop will attend. Please visit the Friends of Tacoma Food Coop Facebook page and show all your stripes of true solidarity – not the lip service central co op paid to the concept of solidarity on the signs they put up after the merger with the Tacoma store in December.