Thursday, January 8, 2009

Welcome, Seward Co-op!

The green exterior of the new Seward Co-op
Today was a big day in the neighborhood where I work -- the new Seward Co-op opened its doors. For those of you not from the Twin Cities, you might be interested to know that Minnesota has more food co-ops than any other state; Minneapolis alone has four, St. Paul two (one of which has two locations). The new Seward store is now the largest food co-op in the Twin Cities, surpassing the Wedge and Lakewinds' Chanhassen location.

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring along a decent camera and so was stuck taking photos with my phone. My apologies. (The photo above is by Peter Fleck, from his Flickr stream of images of the store's preview, back in December.)

A crowd outside the door before opening
Several hundred people (maybe as many as 500 -- it sure seemed like a lot) waited fairly patiently in the cold for about 20 minutes, listening to speeches.

It really is a lot of work to raise the money, design a store, get all the permits, and then build it! So the many people who've been working on the new store for years were recognized. ($1.5 million was raised in loans from members of the total $10.5 million project cost. That doesn't happen when Whole Foods builds a store.)

The new space is twice as big as the old one, with 13,000 retail square feet. It's the first LEED gold-certified food co-op in the country, meaning it was built with very high standards for energy use, using recycled materials, and capturing stormwater.

Crowd of people around the meat counter
One major change is the addition of a full-service meat counter. All of the meat (except some of the fish) is local, and the co-op is making its own sausages, too. It was an impressive-looking meat display, but there were too many people in front of it to get a picture!

Tables and chairs in the daylight-lit seating area
The deli is about four times as big as the old one, with double-sided salad and hot-food bars (hallelujah!), and a real bakery counter. You can load your hot food or salad into a reusable dish (complete with metal flatware) and then eat it in the sunny dining area in the front of the store. No more takeout containers! And I hear there's supposed to be free WiFi, too.

For better photos than mine, especially of the ribbon cutting, check out the pfhyper blog and his Flickr page.


Peter Fleck said...

Thanks so much for the links! Here is a direct link to the photo set from the 1/8 Seward Co-op opening.

Great post too. I'll get it out on my twitter feed ( and also add an update on my blog post.

I think the photos are great too. You captured the crowd better than I did.

Glad to have found your blog.

Peter (pfhyper) Fleck

elena said...

Thanks so much – to you and all the member-owners and staff of Seward Co-op: what a wonderful accomplishment. Seward Co-op has always been great, in all of its's to the LEED era!