A natural foods grocery store is coming to the Southtowns.
The East Aurora Food Cooperative Market announced over the weekend that it plans to open its store in the village in April 2015, making it just the second co-op-run supermarket in Western New York.
The market will be housed in the Red Brick Plaza at 591 Main St.
“We have leased the entire first floor, which give us 5,000 square feet of retail space, with additional space for offices and warehousing,” the cooperative announced on its Facebook page Saturday.
That news follows Wednesday’s announcement that Whole Foods Market plans to open a grocery store in the Buffalo area in 2016.
“We’ve been working on this for about four years and looking hard for a site. It’s just a huge milestone for us,” said Sheila Conboy, the co-op’s volunteer project manager.
Locally grown produce will be a priority for the co-op.
“We’re really surrounded by agriculture. We are going to carry as much locally produced goods as possible,” she said.
The East Aurora market is expected to be similar in size to the 4,500-square-feet operation run by Lexington Food Cooperative, at Elmwood Avenue, and is being designed by Matt Moscati of TRM Architect, who also did the Buffalo location.
That co-op, which has seen its membership close in on 11,000 members and reach nearly $11 million in total sales, is looking to open a second store due to consumer demand.
The cost of the East Aurora co-op, which has about 800 members, is expected to be around $2 million. The for-profit business hopes to raise more than $800,000 through a membership loan campaign and is planning a capital campaign.
The remainder of the funds are expected to come from local banks and lending institutions, Conboy said.
The effort to find a site was aided by a $10,000 grant from Minn.-based Food Coop Initiatives, which gives money to start-up co-ops.
It was used for a market study, consulting work and architectural designs.
Six sites originally considered for the store were reduced to two before the final choice was made.
The Lexington Food Co-op has helped the East Aurora co-op with business and marketing advice.
“One of our principles is cooperation among co-ops, so we don’t see them as competitors. It’s great to have another co-op in Western New York, and we want to do whatever we can to help them succeed,” said Tim Bartlett, the Lexington Food Co-op’s general manager.
“It’s part of a nationwide movement of people finding that, even with the prominence of Whole Foods, and with just about every supermarket in the country carrying natural foods, people want community-building cooperatives. I think these start-up co-ops are an expression of that. The profits stay in the community, and the decisions are locally made.”