Co-op raises store funds, hopes to earn $750,000 in capital campaign

The Columbus Food Co-op hopes to raise $750,000 by November as part of a capital campaign for a grocery store it plans to open next year.

The member-owned co-op kicked off its campaign Wednesday during a members-only party at 1580 Central Ave., where it intends to operate in 2018, said April Williams, campaign manager for the Columbus Food Co-op.

The co-op plans to lease 8,400 square feet of space in the building.

Total cost of the project is about $2.3 million, with other funding coming in the form of bank loans, Williams said.

The food co-op, which has 956 members, hopes to reach its goal its campaign goal within three months, she said.

“I’ve been fortunate to be involved in several community projects over the years, primarily focused on impacting the health of our community, and this is another one of those projects that will make Columbus an even better place to live,” Williams said.

Plans for the grocery store on Central Avenue were announced in April during the food co-op’s annual meeting. The Columbus Food Co-op began discussing the idea of a grocery store in 2010 and spent nearly all of 2015 focused on a former Aldi store on 25th Street, but the co-op was unable to generate enough funding commitments to move forward on the $1.8 million project at that time.

The full-scale grocery store, which is projected to open to the public in the third quarter of 2018, will allow customers to purchase food from growers within a 100-mile radius.

“We concentrate on wholesome and fresh food grown locally,” Williams said. “We are really big on the values we subscribe to because our emphasis is meeting the needs of people.”

The food co-op also projects to spend a half-million dollars with local farmers during its first year in operation, said Mike Johnston, food co-op board president.

“We’ll be a model of how to operate a sustainable business and beyond just the dollars we will spend with local farmers, the co-op will give them the opportunity to have direct contact with consumers on a year-round basis, helping them to grow from small farmers to bigger farmers,” Johnston said. “The co-op is a physical example of a welcoming community.”

Williams said she’s confident the overall goal will be met, saying the food co-op’s members are committed and that there is support from the community as well. She described the food co-op similar as being a year-round farmers market.

“We’re filling a gap that needs to be filled in the community that will make Columbus a better place to live,” she said.

How to donate

To donate funds toward the Columbus Food Co-op’s capital campaign for its grocery store or to become a member, call campaign manager April Williams at 812-343-2841.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or