Chip Hurst helps Hub City Co-op find home

Chip Hurst helps Hub City Co-op find home

18 Jun 2012

After several years of planning, Hub City Co-op owners announced Monday that they finally have found a home for their independent member-owned grocery market.

The property has sat vacant for roughly a decade. Ouzts said she and her fellow owners are hopeful the site will galvanize the community’s support for the project, propelling it from conception through its critical completion phase.

“We are so excited,” Ouzts said. “This building is like a blank canvas. We will be able to do things that will reflect the character of our community and at the same time provide local, wholesome foods that are top quality.”

The lease allows the group six months to raise start-up funding from the community and to finalize designs. The co-op has about 500 owners who have paid $150 for a stake in the store, but Ouzts said even more owners are needed to get construction off the ground.

Hub City Co-op owners will kick off a fundraising campaign in the fall. Construction is expected to begin by the end of the year, with an anticipated opening of sometime next year.

Efforts to get the project off the ground stalled in 2010 when the group’s former director left. Ouzts said co-op owners went back to the “Over the past year, the Hub City Co-op Site Development work group and Start-up Board took the necessary steps to ensure the site selected offered the highest potential for success,” Tim Meade, co-op board member, said in a statement.

“We evaluated potential sites, coordinated preliminary design plans with McMillan Pazdan Smith, collected up-fit estimates from Clayton Construction Co., commissioned

a market analysis from G2G Research Group, received legal advice from Nodine Law, prepared numerous pro forma financial statements and negotiated the lease with the site owner.”

Ouzts said the store will be the first grocery co-op in South Carolina. It will employ at least 30 people, including a full-time general manager, five other managers and 24 hourly employees, who will all be required to be astute at helping customers match up healthy, nutritious foods with their dietary needs and lifestyles.

A special task force will convene soon to begin a selection process for a general manager, she said.

In the space, co-op owners got everything they were looking for, including a central location, ample space and parking, visibility, utilities, a loading dock and other amenities, Outz said.

Preliminary drawings show the market will be stocked with a full range of grocery items, including produce, meats, dry goods, soups, dairy products and breads. It also could have a salad bar, a hot bar and a grab-and-go section that offers portions of foods prepared on site.

The store will primarily be stocked with fresh, natural foods from local sources.

And anyone can shop there, not just owners. In profitable years, Ouzts said owners will receive a rebate as their dividend. board and worked with a national consulting firm to formulate a plan.

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