The vision for a cooperative grocery store downtown is developing with the help of the co-ops that came before it.
Merissa Koller-Williams with Healthy Tomorrows and Tyler Kornelis with the Kodiak Area Native Association are both involved in organizing the co-op and its storefront along with 10 to 15 other dedicated community members. A few weeks ago, Koller-Williams and Kornelis attended the Consumer Cooperative Management Association Conference in Amherst, Massachusetts.
The conference attracts food co-op general managers, board members and, Kornelis says, the “who’s who” of the co-op world.
He says the conference proved to be a good networking opportunity, and they also shared their situation with attendees.
“We met a lot of people that were really interested in our project here in Kodiak, specifically the fresh seafood aspect that it’s very difficult to access that from a consumer’s standpoint. They’re intrigued because of the volume of seafood we have here and the difficulty of that actually accessing that resource.”
Selling seafood is one of the many ideas floating around the grocery store concept, which may still be a few years away from becoming a reality. Right now, the vision is developing, just like the game plan. As Koller-Williams says, they want to provide local produce, but they also want to cater to demand, whether that means selling veggies or mac and cheese.
And while it’s a slow process, organizers are getting closer to their goal step-by-step.
Koller-Williams says at a meeting Monday, the group moved to officially incorporate as a business.
“So, we’re in the process of applying for our business license and getting things together there, and hopefully soon we’ll have a feasibility study. We have funding for that. And that will tell us how big our store can be, what our community can support. Things like that. So, it’ll be a lot easier for us to decide where the co-op’s gonna go and what we can have there.”
She says attendees at the conference in Massachusetts proved to be good examples of established co-ops and will be able to share their experiences and help Kodiak learn from their mistakes.
Koller-Williams and Kornelis also say they want to foster an inclusive spirit and encourage community input.