Two solid years of planning and implementation for the new Marquette Food Co-Op facility came to fruition Thursday morning.
Over seventy Co-op members marched from the store’s previous location on Baraga Avenue to its new home on Washington Street, where instead of cutting a ribbon, they broke bread to celebrate the opening of the new facility. Excitement was in the air as the first shoppers got a glimpse of the fresh storefront.
“This feels wonderful,” said General Manager Matt Gougeon. “I can hardly believe that we’ve got it open. If you can see the store behind me here, it’s just shining, it looks fabulous having members and shoppers in it. That was the piece that was missing all along.”
“The response from the community has been incredible, and I think a lot of that is because this is a community owned grocery store,” Natasha Lantz, Education and Outreach Director for the Co-op, added. “So, people feel very attached to their store, and so, whether they’re member-owners or whether they are just someone who shops here at the store and supports their local Co-op, you know it’s a place for everyone. So, I think people take pride in being part of the Co-op no matter what their role might be.”
The new store’s features were built to satisfy the needs of Co-op members. In addition to expanded parking and wider aisles, a full-service deli, and a production kitchen are among the improvements.
“It’s just so nice to see the room and so many more new products and just places to sit down and visit. I love it,” said Kathy Maynard, a member-owner for 15 years.
“A big open space, big counters, you know, for a great selection of fruit and vegetables, meat – we’re excited to see the new food,” Fred Maynard, also a 15-year member-owner, added.
The store is open for business, but there are still more improvements to come. The selection of prepared food from the deli and kitchen will be expanded, and a Co-op Classroom will be completed.