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Thursday, March 26, 2015

UPDATE: Local First Grocer closes, Anna's to expand

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 3:35 PM

We just received a statement from the Local First Grocer Co-op Board of Directors regarding the reasons behind the venture's closure. It is copied here in its entirety:

Manitou is a heavy tourist area and the local businesses depend on the tourist high season months to keep their doors open. Due to the congestion our town receives from tourism and with Local First Grocer Cooperative’s (LFG) limited amount of parking spaces, we received a smaller amount of local traffic than we had anticipated. Thus, we discovered that over the course of the year our centrally located, lean inventory, progressive model could not compete with the easy access, diversely stocked super markets nearby. Our business model relied heavily on having wide spread community involvement, and sadly, we did not reach enough people quickly enough. LFG made huge strides to correct many of our unforeseen issues, but with being a start-up cooperative and lacking adequate capital to provide for unforeseen contingencies when the doors opened our uphill battle was ultimately lost. This winter had been especially hard with the extra snow and cold days, making shoppers few and far between. Without consistent daily sales, having less local produce available, and no reserve capital, new product could not be ordered, creating the quick downward spiral that has led us here. Please keep in mind that sadly even many well established Manitou businesses are struggling. To save our Manitou stores we need to make the effort to shop, support, and spread the word about our locally owned and operated businesses. After much deliberation, and exhausting every known opportunity to stay open, LFG’s board of directors has made the very difficult decision to close the doors of LFG. To those of you who shopped there, we thank you. To the many who regularly volunteered, we are truly grateful. For almost a year we helped support local farmers, backyard gardeners, and local producers who started with LFG selling their product to the public for the first time and now have grown beyond our store, and we have received so much thanks and appreciation for being the change we all wish to see in our markets :-D! We came to this decision with a heavy heart, and wish the outcome could have been different. Many lives were touched and many bridges were built.

——- FIRST UPDATE, MONDAY, MARCH 23, 12:20 P.M. ——-

At this time, we have yet to have calls returned by Local First Grocer's general manager, or receive a letter from the board. But again, we'll update this post when we gather any new info. 

One bit we can now confirm is that Radiantly Raw will occupy the other part of the former co-op along with Anna's. 

See this upcoming week's Side Dish for more on that, as well as news that RR will also form a retail space inside of the soon-to-move The Cupcake Doctor, on the north end of town. 


Things sounded peachy in early 2014, when Local First Grocer was still crowdsourcing money to produce a physical location. 
click to enlarge Down and out.
  • Down and out.

But by midyear, just months after being open, internal tensions had many onlookers questioning the market's model and viability based partly on concerns of its ousted founder, who has since gone on to launch Local Motive and the LocalFood CS app

Whatever has since gone down, we can at least say today that Local First Grocer is in the process of going out of business, and that its doors have been closed since the weekend, we're told by passersby. 

We spoke with former board member and manager Luke Cissell, who was unable to provide a comment at this time, saying a letter from the board would be forthcoming.

And we have another call in to the current general manager to see if there is anything he can say now, ahead of that letter. (We'll update this blog post once we have gathered substantive follow-up info.)

One item we can share is that Anna's Apothecary, according to its co-owner Anna Papini, plans to take over Local First Grocer's space once it is clear, expanding its offerings in the process. 

Another local craft entity may share the space with Anna's, but confirmation on that also remains a few days out, most likely. (Again, we'll update this posting.)

click to enlarge Soon to grow in volume.
  • Soon to grow in volume.

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