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December 18, 2020 – BriarPatch Food Co-op has signed a lease for its second store location at the former Kmart site at 2505 Bell Road in Auburn, California. The 44 year-old food cooperative has served as a community hub of Grass Valley and has moved locations five times, growing from a small storefront to its current 20,000 square foot lodestone for organic and local food. Its annual sales now top $35M and 10,000 people are member-owners, supporting the co-op by contributing a refundable lifetime $200 equity share and through their patronage of the store. The current location at Sierra College Drive in Grass Valley has reached its maximum level of sales capacity for its size, and with a large percentage of owners and sales coming from the Auburn trade area and even further south along the 49 corridor, the opportunity was prime.
In their due diligence work, the BriarPatch Board of Directors identified three top reasons to expand BriarPatch’s footprint beyond Nevada County.
Increasing the Co-op’s community impact is an important motivator for expansion, and close to the hearts of board members, employees and co-op owners. BriarPatch will offer more jobs in a values-oriented workplace- and more advancement opportunities for its Grass Valley employees. The co-op’s sizable donations and sponsorships budget will expand its reach to support mission-aligned organizations in the Auburn area. “We’ll make our mark as the area destination for finding delicious healthy foods to eat in a sea of conventional markets and fast food chains along the 49 corridor,” says Kwong Chew, BriarPatch board member.
Helping to improve the food system is a mission that the Co-op takes seriously. A second location gives local farmers and producers more opportunities to sell higher volumes to two stores. “BriarPatch will be able to support organic farming even more by having opportunities to increase our organic purchases, and through our expanded footprint and branding, we’ll increase awareness of, and more importantly, access to good, local, clean food to more people,” says Rachel Berry, BriarPatch board member, as well as engagement director for Sierra Harvest, a local nonprofit dedicated to providing fresh, healthy food access to all, an organization with which the Co-op partners closely.
“Our Board believes that expanding the reach of the Co-op is the right decision to better serve our region, and remain a successful, viable and competitive business,” says Alan Weisberg, BriarPatch Board President. “Two years ago, we unanimously adopted a strategy to grow the Co-op by opening additional stores. After adopting that policy, our management team did a very thorough study of the best possible location in our region, and Auburn became the clear first choice. When the former Kmart location off Bell Road became a possibility, we pursued it with vigor. We believe we have entered into an excellent agreement that will bring great benefits to our member-owners, to our current and future staff and to both the Grass Valley and Auburn communities.”
In addition to supplying local and organic foods to the community, BriarPatch Food Co-op is known for its 99% organically grown produce department that works with local farmers to preplan their production to ensure market needs are met and farmers make a profit from their crops, deli and bakery departments offering fresh high quality, delicious options and a commitment to engage with, promote and give back to area nonprofits. The store is slated to open in mid-2022.