Richmond Food Co-op:

‘All avenues have been exhausted’

After about six years on the shelf, a local food co-op has met its expiration date.

The Richmond Food Co-op, a fledgling effort for a member-owned grocery store on the Southside, is officially discontinuing its hopes of opening.

That’s according to an email sent to co-op members by the group’s board of directors on Nov. 4, a copy of which was obtained by BizSense.

“After several calls for member involvement and a period of exploration, we feel that all avenues have been exhausted,” the email states. “After careful consideration, we do not have the resources needed to open our shared vision of a cooperative grocery store.”

The announcement comes a few months after the co-op’s would-be home at 1200-1209 Westover Hills Blvd. sold to local developers, who stated that the grocer would not be a tenant in the property. In the weeks after the sale, the co-op reaffirmed that it was still around and began mulling its options.

The Richmond Food Co-op kicked off a fundraising campaign in 2013 to open a member-owned grocery concept, with eyes originally on Scott’s Addition. Members could join the co-op for a $125 membership fee and a $25 joining fee.

The co-op raised about $125,000 from around 1,000 members. In the Nov. 4 letter, the board wrote that those membership fees will not be refunded.

The email announcement that co-op members received earlier this week. (Screenshot)

“Please note that member equity will not be refunded as it has been used to cover start-up costs and expenses,” the letter reads. “All start-ups come with an inherent financial risk, and again we thank you for your participation.”

Calls made to co-op leadership on Tuesday were not returned by press time.

The co-op also had hoped to gather around $1.5 million in loans from members to help finance the prospective project in Forest Hill. But as loan fundraising stalled out at around $330,000 in early 2017, the co-op reverted its lease on the space back to a letter of intent and refunded the loans to members.

The co-op’s board also wrote in its email this week that it “hopes to see other member-owned enterprises succeed in the future.”

By Mike Platania, November 7, 2018 – Richmond BizSense

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