BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — The Dakota Community Market has been in its planning stages for the last two years, and the plan is to open a grocery store with access to local, organic and specialty foods.
“Cooperative businesses aren’t owned by one person or a corporation,” steering committee president Bess Pallares said. “They’re owned collectively and democratically by all of the member-owners, so by opening our owner shares, we actually are launching the co-op as a public business and inviting in those new cooperators to join us in the business.”
The co-op launched member-owner shares on June 1, and they already have around 45 people signed up. They need about 1,000 to open the doors, but that will take some time.
“We follow the three-stage co-op development model that’s supported by the Food Co-op Initiative, which is a nonprofit that supports the successful launch of food co-ops. We’re in stage one right now. To enter stage two, we need about 300 members, and then it goes up from there until we open the store,” Pallares said.
Kyle Haroldson, who is on this co-op’s steering committee, owns an organic farm near Bruce, South Dakota. He says being able to sell his product locally is much easier.
“It’s interesting that the people buying, they’re part of the co-op or owners too, so they own the co-op and they have input in what they would like to see in the co-op, so for us, we can grow different things. If the customers wants more of something, we can grow more of something, so just that feedback from the community is good as well,” Haroldson said.
“Local is our number-one priority, and then from there, we’ll carry kind of whatever you find at a typical co-op grocery store,” Pallares said.
Anyone 18 years old or older can become a member-owner for a $150 lifetime fee.