Just Local Food Cooks Up Plans for New Space
Just Local Food Cooperative in downtown Eau Claire will soon announce plans for relocating and expanding into a new, 9,000-square-foot space. The downtown grocery store hopes to reveal its new location in January, General Manager Maria Bamonti said. The co-op, which focuses on local and ethically sourced food, was founded in 2004, and since 2008 has operated from a 2,000-foot store at the intersection of South Farwell and Washington streets. Just Local long ago outgrew the current store, which has only a cramped 1,200 square feet of retail space. The new location will have about 6,500 square feet for retail – that’s similar in size to the Menomonie Market Food Co-op’s new store, which opened in 2015 – as well as classroom space that will offer the community opportunities to gather for food-themed classes and events. “Due to the size and lack of space in our current store, we know expanding to a new, larger location will provide us the ability to meet (shoppers’) demands, but we’ll need the support of our community to help get us there,” Bamonti added. To harness community support, Just Local has launched a donation drive dubbed “Let’s Grow Together.” Through Dec. 31, shoppers will be asked to donate $1 in exchange for a wooden token. Then in the spring, Just Local will be launching a capital campaign, during which owners will be asked to invest in the co-op through stock purchases or loans. Currently, the co-op has more than 900 member-owners, but it’s open to all Chippewa Valley residents who want to shop for locally grown, raised, produced, and brewed food and drink.