Frequently Asked Questions
The Merc Co+op has signed an agreement to open a 14,000 square foot grocery store at 5th & Minnesota in Kansas City, Kansas. The store is set to open in early 2020.
Where did this expansion plan come from?
The co-op’s board and managers first discussed the KCK opportunity with owners at our November 2017 Annual Co-op Meeting, but expansion has been a topic at the board level for quite some time. To make it possible for more people to own and engage in the co-op model and to increase the good that we can do within our communities, the board rewrote our Ends in 2015 to say The Merc Co+op will be a “thriving consumer owned cooperative in our region.”
How is this expansion being paid for?
The Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas/Wyandotte County (UG) has demonstrated how much they value creating access to healthy food by mitigating our financial risks. They will fund all of the estimated $6 million equipment, fixtures and furnishings with proceeds from the sale of the Hilton Garden Inn. The co-op will pay property taxes and utilities.
Can I shop at the co-op if I’m not an owner?
Yes! Everyone can shop. Anyone can own. There are perks and benefits to ownership, and when owners shop they earn points towards a year-end rebate. Find out more at www.themerc.coop/ownership.
Who are the decision-makers? Do the member-owners have to vote on this?
The board of directors, elected by the co-op’s owners, decided to allow the general manager to pursue the project. More information on the co-op’s board and how they operate can be found at www.themerc.coop/board.
How soon would the store open?
Early 2020. Construction will begin by early summer 2019.
Where will shoppers park?
The grocery store will have nearly 60 dedicated spaces within the current lot at 5th & Minnesota. Additional street parking will be available as soon as this spring.
Who will work at the KCK store?
The co-op will hire approximately 20-25 new employees to staff this store. We have made it a priority to hire individuals from the KCK community to reflect the ethnically diverse demographics. More information about co-op employment can be found at www.themerc.coop/employment.
Who is building the store?
The UG selected McCown Gordon Construction (KCMO).
Who is designing the store?
The UG selected International Architects Atelier (KCMO). The UG held two community input session in February to receive feedback on the architect’s proposed designs. That feedback shaped the plans to move ahead with the rendering featured above.
The UG has discussed selling the building to a private owner. What does that mean for the co-op?
With long-term sustainability, the co-op would have the option to purchase the property.
Will art be incorporated into the project?
Art will be a feature at the corner of 5th & Minnesota. The co-op hopes to incorporate murals as well.
Will this store be the same as the store at 901 Iowa?
While the store will be smaller than 901 Iowa, it will remain a full-service grocery store with produce, salad bar, packaged meat and seafood and grocery as well as a deli and cafe. The specifics of what this store will look like have not been determined, and product selection will depend on what the KCK community wants and needs from a local grocery store.
What will expansion mean for local producers?
We look forward to expanding current partnerships and building new relationships with local KCK farmers and producers.
What does this mean for prices?
Access and affordability is necessary, which is why we offer more affordable options and our store brands, Field Day and Best Choice. We currently accept SNAP/EBT and will launch WIC in 2019. In addition, we offer the MercShare+, a program that provides ownership subsidies and 10% discounts to those on food assistance. As the co-op grows, we increase our buying power - which means better prices for our shoppers.
Why not expand in Lawrence?
The co-op has explored the feasibility of this. Within Lawrence today, there are several factors that prevent us from opening another location, including high real estate costs, population limitations and market saturation with more competition to come.
Where can I go for more information?
Stay tuned to this page or contact Rita York Hennecke, General Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KCK Commission Approves Downtown Grocery Store Project
Friday, August 31, 2018
By a vote of 9-0, the city commission approved a downtown grocery store to be operated by The Merc Co+op.
"On behalf of the our co-op, I want to say how excited we are to open a cooperatively-owned grocery store in KCK where everyone can shop and anyone can own. Thank you so much for the hospitality and support that your community has shown us," said Rita York Hennecke, General Manager.
"We want everyone to know that as a co-op, we exist to serve people's needs. To that end, we are looking forward to listening and discovering what you want from your neighborhood grocery store."
A construction timeline and store design has not been determined. For more information about the project, view the video below or click on the links to local media coverage.
view the commission meeting.
The Merc Co+op to Consider Expansion in Kansas City, Kansas
Statement issued July 10, 2018
The Merc Co+op has signed a non-binding letter of intent with The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas (UG) to open a grocery store at the corner of 5th and Minnesota in downtown KCK. They are now in the process of negotiating a management agreement.
“We are excited about this potential opportunity in Kansas City. We are not bound by contract at this point, nor determined store design or product selection,” said Rita York Hennecke, General Manager. “That said, we look forward to working with the KCK community to discover what neighbors would want in their store.”
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5th St. and Minnesota Ave. Kansas City, Kansas