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News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, May 9, 2013
A move to South Street?
Blue Hill Co-op asks for public input

by Anne Berleant

The Blue Hill Co-op is taking the next step toward a new, larger store on South Street, and has called a community meeting on Tuesday, May 14, to discuss those plans.

“We’re looking for input on what members and non-members would like to see,” said general manager Mark Deeny.

The co-op board has been working for two years on financing options for a new store, Deeny said. Now, “we have moved the conversation forward in real facts and ability to pull it off.”

Last October, the co-op purchased an option on a 5.5 acre parcel next to Mainescape on South Street, as a first step toward its relocation plans.

That option, Deeny said, expires in September 2014.

“Part of the reason of the [public] forum is to get information on what [a new store] would look like,” Deeny said. “That will narrow down the cost range for financing.”

The co-op is specifically looking to hear from its members, “to make that move from theory to practice…[in] an effort to be honest to that ideal,” Deeny said.

The co-op is owned by its members, who elect its governing board. Members account for 48 percent of its annual sales.

“Our first duty is to our members,” Deeny said, who as general manager, is not on the co-op board.

The co-op rang up $2.2 million in sales last year, according to Deeny, and with 52 percent of those sales made to the general public, the larger community has a voice, too.

The community is more than a customer-base for the co-op. Deeny said that the store spent $820,000 “within 25 miles of Blue Hill” in 2012 on services and goods, including $100,000 on produce from local farms.

“The co-op has grown significantly in the last 40 years,” Deeny said. “The goal is to get as much input so we can further our mission of providing healthy food to the Peninsula and support the local economy.”