As Central Co-op attempts to win a place anchoring the commercial development around Capitol Hill Station and repair the situation in Tacoma where it is looking for a new location to open a market after this year’s merger, it will do so while searching for a new leader.
CEO Dan Arnett told the 40-year-old cooperative’s members Thursday he will be stepping down in December to head a co-op in Sacramento. Arnett told CHS he was ready for a new challenge and that controversy over the closure of Central Co-op Tacoma had no impact on his decision to leave Seattle.
Overseeing the merger of the Tacoma co-op with the E Madison-headquartered Central Co-op was one of Arnett’s most significant accomplishments during his four years in Seattle. The Tacoma store later closed when Central Co-op could not reach an agreement on a new lease. Arnett said there were no plans for Central Co-op to make any further mergers, with Sacramento or elsewhere.
Last month, CHS reported on the frustrations of Tacoma co-op members following the abrupt closure of their store in the wake of a merger. Christine Cooley of Tacoma’s Friends of the Co-op group told CHS that she hopes Arnett’s resignation could expedite the opening of a new Tacoma store. “I worry a lot for Sacramento,” she said.
Following the Tacoma closure, Central Co-op board chair Dean DeCrease said, “We clearly did not sufficiently inform and involve the Tacoma membership of the developments surrounding the closure of the 6th Avenue store.” Arnett told CHS the co-op was working to find a new Tacoma location. “Our strategy is to find the right site and location as opposed to the quickest deal,” he said.
Central Co-op has been vying against Portland-based New Seasons to win the deal to be the anchor tenant in the commercial development underway around Capitol Hill Station. Arnett said Central Co-op was still in the mix and that he would continue to pursue a second location on Capitol Hill.
Under Arnett’s leadership, the co-op also transitioned to a “solidarity co-op” model, where consumer-members own half of the co-op and worker-members own the other. The co-op established a $15 minimum wage for new hires well in advance of the city’s required schedule. Central also recently secured a 20-year lease for its 16th and Madison location with another 20-year option.
Here is the statement Arnett sent to the co-op’s membership announcing his departure.
I want to share the important news that I have accepted a new role at another co-op. I will remain as Cooperator in Chief at Central Co-op through December and work with our board to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership as I work to relocate to Sacramento. Our Board and management are committed to our vision to grow Central Co-op and continue our transformative, nationally-recognized work as a cooperative for the 21st century. We will continue our work opening a new storefront in Tacoma, making improvements to our store at 16th and Madison, pursuing the anchor tenant space at the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station, and more. There are many exciting opportunities ahead for the co-op and we are better positioned than ever to achieve them. Please stay tuned for more news related to the future management transition over the coming months, if you have questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It has been an honor to serve Central Co-op members from the moment I arrived in 2012,” Arnett’s statement concludes. “Our co-op is a proven leader on important issues for food co-ops, and retailers in general, across the country. I know there is more to come. Thank you for helping make my time here truly special.”