“It takes a village” – and our co-op is no exception! Let’s take a look at what we’ve accomplished in the previous year, with the help of so many:

Teams Supporting the Project:

City of Bethlehem: Administering the federal HUD (Housing and Urban Development) funded grant to the co-op, which was sponsored by Congresswoman Susan Wild

Simplified Business Solutions: Full-time project management

Peron Development and Boyle Construction: Developing and constructing the four-story, mixed-used building in which the co-op will be located

Thought for Food Consulting: Deli design and prepared foods programming

Aurora Displays: Interior décor and logo refresh

Seven Roots Group: Store design and equipment procurement

Developer Accomplishments:

The co-op finalized our lease with Peron Development and secured a 10-year lease as the anchor tenant in the new building being constructed at 250 E. Broad St. There will be three floors of apartments above the co-op – 42 tenants who will all be co-op members, thanks to Peron’s generosity.

Shortly after finalizing our lease, ground was broken on May 5 (right, our Board takes a turn at the ceremonial shovels).

The co-op was able to work with the developer to receive permission to house the co-op’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems on the roof, freeing up almost 400 square feet of floor for the sales area.

The development team continued their site work, including laying foundations and erecting towers for the elevator and stairwell. They anticipate framing to start in mid-January.

Store Design, Deli Design, and Décor Accomplishments:

Earlier this year, Seven Roots helped the co-op conduct a community survey report, which asked for input from the community on product offerings, store design, and more.

This year, we finalized our store layout and shared out the initial vision during our Annual Member Meeting in October. We are grateful for Seven Roots’ guidance and expertise during this process and look forward to sharing more soon.

To support the store design, the co-op hired an expert in deli design and prepared foods programming, Thought for Food Consulting. The co-op will have a robust prepared foods section including hot bar offerings, juice/coffee made to order, grab and go meals, and other exciting options.

In 2022 the co-op interviewed interior design firms and hired Aurora Displays. This local team is responsible for the “look and feel” of the store and they shared a vision board at the Annual Member Meeting in October (above). They are also working on a logo refresh for the co-op.

Co-op/Board Accomplishments:

The Community Investment Fund was launched with direct-buy options for naming opportunities around our new store. This fund supports the co-op’s capital campaign for current operations and initial store operations. We are within approximately $20,000 of our $300,000 goal.

The Sourcing and Aggregation Committee compiled a list of local vendors, products, and local compliance regulations to inform our purchasing process for local goods. They also had all interested local vendors fill out an initial interest application to better understand their product offerings and inventory volumes.

A General Manager Search Committee was established.The first round of interviews has been facilitated and the second round begins next week. We anticipate filling this position during the first quarter of 2023.

The Board hired a federal grants expert to oversee the process for grant funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, sponsored by Congresswoman Susan Wild and administered through the City of Bethlehem. The co-op and our grants consultant attend monthly meetings with City staff and we expect to have our final narrative and budget approved by HUD in early 2023.

At our Annual Member Meeting on Oct. 3, we re-elected incumbents Kathy Fox and Heather Terrible to the Board, along with newcomer Justin Beaver. Incumbent officers Carol Ritter (Chair), Heather Terrible (Vice-Chair) and Domenic Breininger (Treasurer) were re-elected, and Debra Fritz was elected as Secretary.

Among other activities, the Board did a thorough review of the By-Laws and made changes to simplify the language and secure more member involvement in future updates.

We had over 200 members join in 2022, exceeding our goal of 1250 founding members. These households and organizations will have their names listed on a special “Founders Display” in the new store (artist’s conception, right).

Many of those members joined because of our outreach efforts, including our sponsorship of social and special events, a big summer Block Party, presentations in the community, and our presence at numerous farmers markets and local events.

This, of course, is only the ‘highlights reel’ of a very productive year. We could not have done any of it without the talented teams supporting us, the countless volunteers who keep showing up, our passionate Board members, and the greater community that believes in us. We are grateful to everyone!

People browsing co-op market stall
Window being painted with co-op branding

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Co-op market booth with staff and information displays
Group of people outdoors holding up large letters spelling we want our won grocery store