Juneau food co-op gains momentum, looks for founding members

Alaskan & Proud

With no announcement about a commercial operator taking over the Alaskan & Proud space, a local group continues to organize a cooperative in a bid to keep Juneau’s only large-scale downtown grocery store open. (Photo by Casey Kelly/KTOO).

The Capital City Market Cooperative is moving into the planning and fundraising stage.

As KTOO first reported two weeks ago, the co-op recently formed in an attempt to keep a full-service grocery store downtown, in the space currently occupied by the soon-to-be vacant Alaskan & Proud Market.

Organizer Evelyn Rousso says the group is launching a founding member drive to raise $12,000 for a market study. Consultant Debbie Suassuna with California-based G2G Research is lined up to do the work. Rousso says she’s an advisor to co-ops nationwide, including a group in Fairbanks that plans to open Alaska’s first food co-op later this year.

“She’s going to come to town. She’s going to probably look at all the markets we have here. She’s going to talk to people,” Rousso says. “There’s some mapping that she’s going to purchase, and then looking at census tracts to figure out what the actual expected buying public would be.”

The Capital City cooperative is asking founding members to donate $500. That gets you a lifetime membership if the market becomes a reality. But Rousso warns founders also are putting their money at risk.

“We don’t know what the market study will tell us, and it may tell us it’s not feasible,” she says.

It’s also possible the owners of the Foodland Shopping Center could announce a new commercial operator for the A & P space. Real estate broker John Williams said Wednesday he remains “hopeful,” but wouldn’t comment on how much interest he’s had from potential operators. A & P is set to close in early September.

Rousso says the market study will look at more than just the A & P location, though it remains the group’s top choice. She says Capital City Market hopes to raise enough money to begin the study by mid-August.

The informational meeting will be held Monday at 5 p.m. at the NorthWind Architects offices on Seward Street.