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.”
Frequently Asked Questions
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 pay for all of the estimated $6 million construction.
Do you have to be an owner to shop the co-op?
No. Ownership in the co-op is optional. Everyone can shop. Anyone can own. Co-op owners earn patronage points at all locations: 901 Iowa, the library cafe and KCK. Find out more at 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. The board has the final say on the binding management agreement, which is still in negotiations.
When will this agreement be finalized?
Pending board approval, we expect it to be finalized this fall.
How soon would the store open?
To be determined. Because this is the UG’s property and construction project, much of the time line depends on them.
Who will work at the KCK store?
The co-op will hire 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.
Will this store be the same as our store at 901 Iowa?
While the store will be slightly smaller than 901 Iowa, it will remain a full-service grocery store with produce, meat and seafood and grocery as well as a deli, bakery 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 farmers and producers.
What does this mean for prices?
As the co-op grows, we increase our buying power - which means better prices for our shoppers. In the meantime, we will continue to provide more affordable options and our store brands, Field Day and Best Choice.
The UG has made a comment about 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.
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.
Send Us Your Questions
5th St. and Minnesota Ave. Kansas City, Kansas