By Brandon Kane, General Manager
When we began studying the feasibility of expanding and relocating our West End store to 770 Cascadilla Street back in the fall of 2016, the project felt almost abstract. We had produced numerous financial studies and design renderings, but they were all two-dimensional representations of an idea. Here we are, two and half years later, and our new store has begun to be translated off paper into dimensional existence. In January, crews began the process of converting the former Cornell publishing warehouse to a gorgeous flagship cooperative storefront. I’m happy to report that we’re on track to open our doors in early spring of 2020.
A couple months back, we realized that the total budget was going to exceed our early projections. We worked closely with the developer over the ensuing weeks to modify the design and specifications of the project to bring it back into line. The resulting redesign did not impact the quality or scope of the retail store we’ll be delivering to the community. Our floor plan (see page 5) still covers an ample but cozy 16,000 square feet, balancing service, selection, and welcoming aesthetics. This will be a cooperative establishment that will make our owner proud.
The only noticeable change to the original plans is the size of our community event space. The early draft plan had us relocating all that the Space currently delivers in like size and scope. We determined that we needed to scale that back in order to lower our development expenses. Although this feature has shrunk significantly in size, we’ve made plans to ensure that the value it delivers to our community keeps growing. The revised plan features a classroom that can still seat more than 30 participants. We’ll be able to host local chefs and our own in-house talent, demonstrating and promoting local and natural foods, in our classroom just off our locally focused espresso bar and café seating. I recommend reading that last sentence again: can you take in that we’re talking about our very own GreenStar? Words can’t adequately explain my excitement in getting to interact with this wonderful place and the people in it.
Even while our amazing staff of more than 200 operate our three present storefronts and bakery kitchen, many of us are amping up our focus on delivering our new cooperative home base. Our tireless marketing team has begun updating our look and message to coincide with the opening of the new location. You’ll likely have noticed our first step, the refreshing of our logo, on our website or in print. This is a lesser (but fun!) component of a multifaceted plan to create a shopping experience that connects us all to the impact of cooperative economics. The list of positive outcomes produced by our co-op is extensive — and I don’t think we do ourselves justice in terms of messaging this to our community. Our branding refresh gives us the opportunity to make this a key aspect of our communications with our shoppers. If you want to feel good about where you spend your dollars, you need not look any farther than GreenStar.
Because we’re still finalizing aspects of the design, it’s too soon to release our new location’s energy plan, but it should only a matter of a few weeks before this is made public. In the meantime, I’ve got some exciting developments to share. As of spring 2019, GreenStar’s West End building and Collegetown store will be sourcing 100% of their electricity from local solar farms. (The DeWitt store stands apart because it’s on a shared building meter.) Even beyond the obvious environmental benefit of this switch, we stand to receive significant savings on our annual electric bill as a result. If you weren’t already aware, GreenStar owners can also sign up to go solar — whether you rent or own — through our Growing Solar community solar program. In the interest of expanding our accessibility to all, we keep working on expanding our Co+op Basics (everyday low prices) product line, as well as going right to the source and asking our community what they want to see in the new and improved GreenStar. Our dedicated staff member RJ Isley is hard at work finding out what our customers want to see in the expanded store. If you’d like to provide us with feedback on our future product line, don’t hesitate to email RJ. We want to hear from you.
I hope you’re as thrilled as I am with our progress and plans. Thank you so much for the commitment you’ve shown your co-op. Every bit of support we give as individuals has a cumulative impact. We are stronger together.