Co-op looks for new location

Sam Chapman

In June 2011, Whitman’s Daily Market Cooperative grocery store anticipated a move to a larger, more accessible location in downtown Walla Walla.   More than three months later, the store has yet to make its move.

After a series of obstacles, the Co-op store moved out of its Whitman campus location after the expiration of its lease in late May 2011.   Though the Co-op had plans to move to a new location at the former location of the catering service, Someone’s in the Kitchen, at 132 West Rose Street, the move was never made, and the catering service reclaimed the space.

According to a press release made by the Co-op Board of Directors (consisting of President Matthew Eppelsheimer, Secretary Margaret Thomas, Treasurer Sonja Aikens, and Jen Rickard), “We do not plan to announce a new location for Daily Market this year.”

Although the downtown location is no longer feasible: a result of a misunderstanding in which the space’s landlord did not believe that an offer made by the college constituted an attempt to finalize the deal : the search for a building is only a small part of their issues.

“We believe it must be large enough to be self-sustaining,” said the Board, “We want some paid staff to ensure consistent customer service and reliable, convenient hours.”

According to Eppelsheimer, the Co-op’s priority is to draft a new business plan. This will be the responsibility of the new Board of Directors, who will be elected at a meeting next week.

“The business plan states the case to investors that this is a good return on their investment,” Eppelsheimer said. “It shows what the money goes towards and all the research we have done.”

While the Co-op has placed its non-perishable inventory in storage for the time being, the Made in Walla Walla Box program continues to operate out of the storefront of the Walla Walla Bread Company at 225 E Main Street. The program offers its subscribers a box of locally grown and made groceries every month.

The Board of Directors offers hope for the future, believing that there is enough support among the Walla Walla and Whitman community to make the Co-op sustainable.

“Food co-ops in [other] communities even smaller and more rural have successfully raised large sums to open their doors,” the Board said.

Eppelsheimer is cautiously optimistic as well.

“We’re running a small, profitable business,” he said. “We know there’s market demand for us, and we just need to raise a lot more capital first.”