Efforts persist to bring a co-op market to northeast Denver. “This is the first time that all the pieces are in a row,” says Thomas Spahr, Stapleton resident and ringleader of the effort.
The idea spawned from Stapleton residents Amanda Allshouse and Juli Pearson, who tried to recruit a natural grocery store to come to Eastbridge after growing frustrated with driving 15 minutes to do their shopping. When they didn’t receive a letter of intent for the Stapleton land last summer, they decided to change vision.
A co-op is a member-owned neighborhood grocery store that provides natural, local, sustainable foods. When a person pays to become a member, he or she receives member-only sales, coupons and discounts.
A neighborhood co-op fills a different niche than a large grocery store like the King Soopers coming to Eastbridge. “We don’t see King Soopers as competition in any way,” says Pearson, who is still one of the main leaders in the effort. Looking back, she realizes Eastbridge wasn’t the right location for the co-op vision, which requires a more intimate space.
The group is now pursuing tenancy at an 8,000-square-foot space at Stanley Marketplace in the Stanley Aviation building at 2501 Dallas in northwest Aurora on the edge of Stapleton. (Stanley Marketplace is currently not announcing tenants.)
The co-op group is hopeful about the location, which will be renovated and provides accessible parking and outdoor space. “I think the developer has a very strong vision for the Stanley site that is community-based and authentic to what the community wants. It features a lot of independent businesses and I think that jives a lot better with our vision for the co-op,” Spahr says. They report good response from Stapleton residents, but support has been slower in Aurora. They hope to begin building relationships with Aurora residents.
The space the group hopes to receive will be compact but offset with vaulted ceilings for an open feel. The conceptual plan includes a salad and hot foods bar, beer and wine, walk-in coolers, a juice bar, meats counter, and more.
They are well on their way to raising their goal of $40,000 in the next month to conduct a feasibility study. They also recently hired a project manager, Caroline Savory, a professional consultant who specializes in co-op start ups. Their steering committee has grown to 17 people and will form subcommittees in the coming weeks to specialize in incorporation and membership.
“We’re at this turning point where it’s really exciting and we have a visual of what it looks like, and a space we’re targeting to be located. People are stepping up with fantastic skills to contribute,” Pearson says.