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Community-owned co-op City Market expands to Burlington’s South End

City-Market-DVT-Winter-2015-Craig-Thomas-18Words // Lettie Stratton
Photos // Craig Thomas

The only thing that could be better than one City Market is two. And that’s exactly what Burlington residents will be getting, with a target opening of spring 2017, as the store adds a new location in the South End on the corner of Briggs Street and Flynn Avenue.

Allison Weinhagen, director of Community Engagement at City Market, says the project has been in the works for several years. A market study was completed years ago to look at where to expand, with the major goal of alleviating pressure on the downtown location, Weinhagen says.
“We did some surveying and we looked at demographics,” she says. “At the time there wasn’t too, too much going on in the South End, although there’s been a lot of changes now.”

The South End location will boast 14,000 square feet of retail space, compared to the downtown location’s 12,000. City Market has been a Burlington icon since its downtown location opened in 2002. The new location will make room for more products, as well as extra space in the aisles and produce department.

“We want to make it more comfortable for staff and shoppers,” Weinhagen says. “We’ll also have some products and services that we haven’t had before. We’re looking for ways to bring in an espresso bar, maybe a juice or smoothie bar, and maybe a growler fill station.”

But eating, drinking and purchasing won’t be the only things you can do at the South End store. The new store will include a robust teaching kitchen and community gathering space. The 800 square foot, multi-purpose space will have not only kitchen equipment, but also mobile furniture that can be moved aside when other events are being hosted.

“In this location we have an opportunity to create the community education kitchen that we’ve wanted,” Weinhagen says. “We’ve done community engagement in the area, talking to businesses, artists, and SEABA (South End Arts and Business Association), about what their feelings are and what they’re looking for. What we heard is that there’s not a lot of space beyond ArtsRiot for community gathering.”

Since City Market’s new store will be a bookend for the South End Arts District, the building itself will reflect the community it’s in with outdoor artwork and community space for music shows, poetry readings, and other gatherings, in addition to classes in the teaching kitchen, Weinhagen says.

Current City Market members need not worry—the membership process is staying the same. Membership grew seven percent this past year and may jump up into the double digits with interest in the new store, Weinhagen says. “We try to introduce people to the benefits of membership, and I anticipate that we will have sizeable growth in membership. With greater sales, our opportunity to give back to the community grows.”

City Market’s Rally for Change program, for example, offers customers the opportunity to round up their payment at the register and donate to nonprofits. The store sells $15 million in local produce alone. Seventy percent of sales are to members. The Policy Governance Board is entirely member-run, and City Market sent 11,000 checks to members totaling $926,000 through the patronage refund program.

A full share of equity at City Market is $200, but to lower the barrier, the total can be paid off yearly in $15 increments. “Investing in the co-op means we have cash on hand to work on different projects,” Weinhagen says. “Who doesn’t want to own the store where they shop?”
Last year’s total community donations were $286,000 while donations to the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf were $84,000. “The financial success of the co-op means we’re able to have that impact on the community,” Weinhagen says.

Keep an eye out for community engagement forums at ArtsRiot in the spring, with opportunities to share out information about City Market’s South End location and hear back. For FAQs and more information, visit www.citymarket.coop/southend.