Grassroots Effort Starts Food Co-op in GR

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GREEN RIVER — A need for a second grocery store in Green River, especially one with priority on affordable local, natural, organic and sustainable food has been recognized. A small group of passionate people are taking matters into their own hands, and have started a steering committee to put together a food co-op in Green River, Wild Sage Market.

If Green River is going to get another grocery store, it will be a grassroots effort that makes it happen,”

~ Committee Member Laurie Carollo

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“We are currently laying the foundation for a co-op, and once we are incorporated then we will need the community’s investment in order to bring it to fruition.”

It all started with a couple phone calls. Nick Walrath, Trout Unlimited Green River Project Manager used to live in Laramie, where there is a natural food co-op.

The more he thought and talked about it, the more he thought it would be a good thing for Green River to have. A couple calls and meetings with the Green River URA and Chamber later, a small group of interested parties accumulated.

“It’s something that Green River could support. Small communities can support co-ops better than they can support a big chain like Whole Foods,” Walrath said.

Current steering committee members include Nick Walrath, John Walrath, Stacey Dolinar, Mary Conley, Lourie Carollo and Sherry Bushman. The committee is seeking out more passionate members to help bring the community’s co-op to fruition.

“I came on board with the hopes of a market that caters to whole-food type things, fresh vegetables and just outside-the-box items that we don’t have available here locally and everybody goes outside of town to get those things, and they’re seeking it out, why not bring it here,” committee member Stacey Dolinar said. “And it’s always been a talk as it is, so I jumped on board.”
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Meeting A Need

“We need an anchor business downtown and a food co-op would probably be a really great thing for business, so if we could be part of the downtown revitalization, that would be icing on the cake,” Carollo said.

Carollo said downtown Green River is where they are looking for a site for the co-op right now. Downtown is their focus, she said, but if two years down the road there is nothing downtown that will work for them, they’ll look elsewhere in town.

“But we will be staying in Green River,” Carollo said.

The Green River Chamber mentioned travelers asking for a close a grocery-type store. Having the co-op downtown and close to the interstate would be more convenient for travelers as well as Green River residents.

“Three of us in my family have Celiac,” Carollo said. “(Gluten-free) Products have become more available, but still not really readily available around here. There are people out there who need this.”
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Laying The Footwork

The committees first meeting was in May. Now, the committee is looking at memberships for the startup capital, then a feasibility study will need to be done.

“We need to make sure this is going to work,” Carollo said. “There’s a lot of funding that needs to be done.

If everything is a “go,” there will be a member loan campaign, apply for grants, bank loans, etc.

Opening the doors is “not in sight yet,” Carollo said. “We need to see what the community response is going to be.”

The committee hopes to open the market within three to five years.

“If everybody buys memberships right away, we could move forward faster,” Walrath said.

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Answers From The Committee About Wild Sage Market

  • What is a co-op?
    • “A cooperative is a business voluntarily owned and controlled by the people who use it – its owners. It is operated primarily for the benefit of its owners to meet their mutual needs.”  (From The FCI Guide to Starting a Co-op)
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  • What is the Wild Sage Market?
    • The Wild Sage Market will be a full-service grocery store, with a priority on affordable local, natural, organic, and sustainable food.
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  • When will the store open?
    • To open our doors, a minimum of 500 memberships is needed. With your membership and help we’ll be able to open sooner.
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  • What type of Co-op business will this be?
    • This will be a for profit, member-owned co-op that will also be open to the public.
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  • Where will it be located?
    • The ideal location for Wild Sage Market is in Green River. For many years, the Green River community has had only one grocery store and is in need of another.
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  • If I’m not a member, can I still shop here?
    • Yes, the Co-op will be open to all for shopping. Members/Owners will receive the opportunity for discount shopping and share in the profits, but everyone is encouraged to shop here.
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  • How much is a membership?
    • The price for a WSM membership has not been set yet. Lifetime member/owner memberships (a voting share) from other Co-ops around the United States are typically around $300.
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  • What are the benefits of becoming a member?
    • By joining Wild Sage Market, you are ensuring the success of our locally-owned grocery store that will provide the community with access to local, natural, and organic foods and products. Member/Owner benefits only become effective once you become fully vested.
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  • Why should I join now instead of waiting until the store is open for shopping?
    • Being a pioneer member/owner now enables us to open the doors sooner.
    • Co-op ownership means putting your dollars where your values are: the cooperative system, healthy communities, and supporting local farms and businesses.
    • Co-ops and their money are owned and controlled by their members/owners, therefore, members provide the basic capital to start the Co-op. Putting off your membership means that it will take longer for us to open our doors. Everything starts with you!
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  • What products will this store carry?
    • The store will carry a variety of local, natural, and organic food and household products that are environmentally friendly.
    • Members/Owners are encouraged to inform the Board or the General Manager about products they would like to see Wild Sage Market to carry.
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Like Wild Sage Market Co-op Startup on Facebook, to follow the journey, submit ideas, or get involved with the startup.

If you have any questions, or would like to get involved, email wildsagemarket@gmail.com.

The Wild Sage Market steering committee is looking for people with a strong interest to help with the startup process.

We’re looking for talent, if this is something that really speaks to you, if they want in on the ground level, to help get the food co-op off the ground, we’re looking for those people with a strong interest,”

~ Committee Member John Walrath