MORAN — One of the dilemmas facing Moran may be a saving grace for the Marmaton Market Food Co-op’s attempt to purchase and operate the local grocery store.
So says Stuart Reid, executive director of the Food Co-op Initiative (FCI), who spoke briefly while in town as part of a tour of Stub’s Market, as well as Moran’s neighboring communities.
The Marmaton Market is a local cooperative supported by local investors, including scores of residents who have banded together and pooled their money with the hopes of purchasing Stub’s, the community’s only grocery store.
The market has been for sale for years, with no other buyers in the running, leading the grassroots effort to buy.
Without a grocery store in Moran, the eastern third of Allen County would be considered within a “food desert,” with no full-service groceries within a 10-mile radius.
That leads to one of the largest benefits for the Marmaton Market planners, Reid said.
“They have a better than typical situation, because they don’t have a lot of other nearby competitors,” Reid said, in a community with a large portion of elderly residents unable to travel out of town.
The Stub’s Market building “has issues,” Reid acknowledged, “but is a reasonable facility for an effort like this.”
And while a change in ownership is always difficult with small-town markets, Reid said, the key to success would lie in the cooperative’s management style.
“The next step is to make sure revenue projections will be met, and that costs are manageable,” Reid said.
Reid praised the Marmaton Market representatives, as well as those from Thrive Allen County, who have assisted in the cooperative’s formation.
“You have a good group of committed people who want to see this work,” Reid said.
THE MARMATON Market was incorporated in June as a for-profit cooperative. Currently, the co-op has 85 members. Shortly thereafter, the cooperative solicited the assistance of FCI.
Based in Minnesota, the Food Co-op Initiative’s mission to increase the number, success and sustainability of new food cooperatives and delivering access to healthy food in communities across the country.
With Thrive’s assistance, the Marmaton Market was awarded in July a 2017 FCI SEED matching grant for new startups.
One of the grant’s key provisions is the potential for on-site personnel development.
In addition to Saturday’s tour, Reid will address the co-operative’s first members meeting later this month.
Reid’s career in grocery started as a carryout and stock clerk in 1972. It was around then he discovered food co-ops in the Minneapolis, Minn., area. In the 45 years since, Reid has volunteered with, co-managed, managed and served on the boards of several such cooperatives.