Press-Republican

December 10, 2012

Ticonderoga heads toward food co-op

LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

TICONDEROGA — Many Ticonderoga residents are hoping a new study will help them start a food cooperative in their community.

Reaction to the study under way now by CDS Consulting of St. Paul, Minn., has been very positive, Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Debra Malaney said.

“It’s pretty exciting,” she said. “It would absolutely be a wonderful addition to

Ticonderoga.”

CO-OP FOCUS

CDS was involved with planning for the successful Middlebury (Vt.) Natural Foods Cooperative, and Malaney said she hopes they can do the same for Ticonderoga.

Ticonderoga hasn’t had an independent grocery store since the downtown Ticonderoga Market closed in the late 1990s after the Wal-Mart SuperCenter opened at the Four Corners. Wal-Mart has a grocery section.

A food co-op would be located in the downtown business district and feature an emphasis on local, healthy foods. The grocery store would be owned by members, who would work there in exchange for discounts and other incentives.

FUNDED BY GRANT

The town is using a $20,000 State Department of State Quality Communities Planning Grant, obtained through PRIDE of Ticonderoga, for the study.

“It will examine the feasibility of a community-owned grocery store in downtown Ticonderoga,” Malaney said. “It will also outline preliminary steps toward its establishment. It should result in a lot of great information.”

PRIDE Executive Director Sharon Reynolds said that setting up a food co-op is a significant undertaking, so having a report that outlines the path they need to take will be invaluable.

“There’s a lot to learn about establishing a consumer-owned co-op. It requires an active and interested community, which I believe we have here.”

She said William Gessner of CDS has been in town working on the study and presented the financial pro forma statement for a co-op to PRIDE and town officials on Dec. 6.

WAL-MART IMPACT

The town has tried unsuccessfully to entice a major grocery retailer to open a store in Ticonderoga, but the presence of discount retailer Wal-Mart has been the discouraging factor, officials have said.

The last supermarket in town was a Tops Friendly Market, which closed in 2006. That space in a local shopping center has been filled by a Peeble’s Department Store that opened earlier this year.

Malaney said the CDS study will also show what the market would be in Ticonderoga for a food co-op.

“Once the final report is released, we’ll have it on the town’s and PRIDE’s websites. It will be shared with the community.”

That may be followed by a public-information meeting to discuss the study, she said, and decide where to go from there.

Email Lohr McKinstry: lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com