Bellingham's Community Food Co-op in expansion mode

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 7, 2014 

The Community Food Co-op soon will start a major expansion project for its downtown store.

In November the cooperative purchased a building at 405 E. Holly St., across the street from the current store. The former Better Than New clothing store spot will undergo a significant remodel, with construction starting in late July or early August and finishing up in March. Once done, the new Co-op Connections building will have an on-site retail bakery, administrative offices, classrooms and a community meeting space.

This is the first step of several projects to improve the overall experience for members and customers, said General Manager Jim Ashby. Other projects include removing the current classroom building near the Chestnut Street intersection to expand the parking lot. At the downtown store Ashby said he regularly hears from customers about the lack of parking and is concerned that some are avoiding the store during the busiest times because of parking issues.

The soon-to-be-remodeled building will get quite a makeover, according to the designs from RMC Architects. A small portion of the 9,589-square-foot building will be demolished, leaving about 8,750 square feet for the co-op. Glass windows will be installed along much of the long exterior wall on the North Forest Street side of the building and a patio/plaza will be built.

"It (the building) will look a lot better when we're done with the remodeling," Ashby said.

The new retail bakery will be open in the morning through the evening and be a place where people can get a quick bite to eat and some coffee, Ashby said. The store will continue to have all the products it currently stocks, including baked goods, but will have more space once the administrative offices are moved.

For many years the building was home to an auto parts store, and Ashby said at one time a portion of that area was a boat dealership.

As for the co-op itself, sales are doing well, Ashby said. After a slow start, the Cordata store has posted strong growth, gaining ground on the downtown store in terms of sales. The Cordata store opened in January 2009, perhaps the most difficult period during the recession and just a few months after the global financial meltdown.

The co-op will host a tour of the soon-to-be-remodeled building from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 21. Along with a tour, participants will get a preview of the building design. Further details can be found at communityfood.coop.

OTHER TIDBITS

-- A new food truck has entered the Bellingham market. Bellingham Sliders will be offering small sandwiches that include pulled pork and angus beef. Blake Trafton, who has a decade of restaurant experience at Red Robin, said he's always found the food truck to have a cool atmosphere and has wanted to try it out in Bellingham. The truck is getting going and for now will be at Vinostrology Wine Lounge (at 120 W. Holly Street) in the evenings of Thursday and Friday, then at Wander Brewing (1807 Dean Ave.) on Saturdays. They will also be at Wilson Motors' Fete and Car Show event on Sunday, June 15. Details, including a schedule, can found on Facebook and Bellinghamsliders.com.

-- Building permits were submitted for The Grove at Bellingham apartment complex on Lincoln Street, south of Fred Meyer. Permits were submitted for several buildings totaling 198 units.

-- Bellingham-based TD Curran is opening its fifth store on Saturday, June 14, in Portland. The 7,500-square-foot store will offer Apple and Mac computer products.

-- Ragfinery recently expanded its business hours. The recycled textile business is now open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 1421 N. Forest St.

-- A permit was issued to demolish the former Prime Tune building at 1189 E. Sunset Ave.; the Sunset Square spot will be home of the Safeway gas station.

-- A state liquor license application was submitted for a small domestic winery called Van Vino at 9131 Markworth Road in Blaine.

-- The new Habitat for Humanity store at 1825 Cornwall Ave. (near Bellingham High School) will have a grand opening 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 14. Steve Thomas from the television shows "This Old House" and "Renovation Nation" will host a do-it-yourself workshop in the community room.

-- Erin Baker's Wholesome Baked Goods retail store has new summer hours. It is open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 427 Ohio St. The store also has begun selling Bellingham Bay Coffee Roasters coffee and Flying Bird Botanical hot tea.

-- Infusion Cuisine restaurant at 6912 Hannegan Road has applied for a liquor license to sell beer and wine.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Business Blog at bellinghamherald.com/business-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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