Great Basin Community Food Co-op is on the move
Sometimes smaller is better. At least that’s the hope of the Great Basin Community Food Cooperative as they prepare to move into their new location this spring.
In early April, the GBCFC is slated to move from their storefront on Wonder Street to 542 1/2 Plumas St., on the border of downtown and the Old Southwest. The space is only about 525 square feet, which is smaller than their original location. But they’re taking the opportunity to create a more efficient, community-oriented space that allows them to bring local and sustainably grown food to a wider range of people.
Kimberly Phipps-Nichol, a co-op volunteer and sustainable planner and designer with Blue Water Studios, is donating her services to the GBCFC to help incorporate green building principles into the space. Her plans include replacing and recycling the laminate flooring, which can’t withstand heavy equipment, with quarry tile made from natural materials without glazes, dyes or chemicals. The co-op will have energy-efficient lighting, an exhaust fan to reduce the need for air conditioning, VOC-free paints and finishes, and a number of local companies are donating materials, such as concrete countertops and wood slabs.
Then there’s the fun stuff: planter boxes, rain barrels, composting, recycling, and bike racks created by a local welding class. Co-op cofounder Nicole Sallaberry says she wants the space to be an educational tool for the community—a example of growing food in unlikely places. The new location is basically a building on a parking lot. There’s no yard, and yet the co-op members plan to have squash growing up nets along the building’s side and fruits and vegetables in the planters.
“When we originally started talking about moving, I was like, ‘Somewhere smaller?'” says Sallaberry. “I didn’t like the idea. But then we started talking with Kimberly. … It’s going to be really efficient and have a good flow. And we can have everything we already have.”
This site is close to three bus lines rather than just the one near Wonder Street. It’s also within biking and walking distance of a bustling residential community and like-minded businesses EcoReno and RawJuvenation.
About a year ago, there was serious talk about the co-op moving to West Street Market, but the timing and space weren’t quite right.
“It wouldn’t have been a new location, it wouldn’t been a second location,” says Phipps-Nichol. That was partly because some of the space offered was outside and could only be used during warmer months.
But then the new location’s landlord, who also owns The Bead Shop building next door, was looking for a tenant that would complement The Bead Shop and bring more foot traffic to the area. The landlord offered the co-op the first year rent-free and then a reasonable rate after that.
The GBCFC also expects it to be easier to get certified by the health department at the new location, since the Wonder Street site would need to get up to code. Certification will enable them to accept food stamps and WIC dollars, and the store can sell to the public, not just to those who pay the annual $15 membership fee.
“Community connectivity-wise and environmental-wise, this space has a lot of potential,” says Phipps-Nichol.