Food co-op could be on E. Jackson, source says

MEDFORD — Quality Market on East Jackson Street is the front-running contender for the site of the proposed Medford Food Co-op, the Mail Tribune has learned.

Co-op board president Jim Sims would not confirm or deny the location at a meeting of cooperative members Wednesday night. "Nothing is set in stone yet," Sims said. "We should announce the location within the next few days if it works out."

The source who told the Mail Tribune about the plan to open the co-op in the Quality Market building spoke on condition of anonymity. Sims told the more than 75 members gathered at the Medford library that the owner of the proposed location was not comfortable announcing the name of his business prior to reaching an agreement.

Sims did say it was a working store that has equipment and employees in place to get the co-op up and running after a smooth transition. He said the workers would remain employed at the site and would be re-trained to learn the ins and outs of working at a co-op. Sims said the co-op has been in discussions with the owner of the location for more than a year. He also said it is a working store near downtown.

Near the end of the meeting, the members voted to go forward with the proposal if the two sides were able to reach an agreement. They were told not to speculate openly about the proposed location. "Nothing is final until a lease is signed," said board member John Miele, a Central Point resident.

Last year, co-op organizers identified a Bear Creek Plaza location as the top possible location of the store, which could open in 2010. Other leading contenders were the former Spearco building on the corner of North Fir and Fourth streets and the former Foodland site on Stewart Avenue.

"The other sites haven't been totally eliminated," Miele said. "But this new proposed site is preferable. It's fair to say it's already a retail establishment."

In an e-mail to members, Sims wrote: "This location is an existing commercial establishment the exact size we've been looking for. It has existing trained employees who are willing to continue. It has in place required equipment for our use, and the site is centrally located in Medford.

Quality Market, at 1211 E. Jackson St., is 8,976 square feet. Pending approval and the ability to raise $490,000 toward opening, the co-op will set up shop in June. Board members would not say how much money had been raised so far."We've got a ways to go," Miele said.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463; or e-mail him at gstiles@mailtribune.com. Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.


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