Background & History
Opened April 30, 2008, our co-op was built into a bowl-shaped site carved from the granite hillside between 1900-1934. Stone from this hill was used to build King St. and Routes 5 & 10. The quarry operations left the site with a flat plateau surrounded by granite cliffs rising on three sides. The cliff acts as a natural barrier between the cooperative store operations and surrounding residential areas. It also provides a beautiful setting for our community food store.
Our 15,000 sq. foot green-constructed building has ample parking; a deli seating area; fresh produce, meat, and seafood departments; a wellness department; beer and wine; bulk foods; cheese, dairy, grocery and more!
1997 Community members meet at Forbes Library to discuss developing a consumer-owned store in Northampton.
1998 Meetings at Northampton Fresh Pasta Company lead to formation of a Steering Committee, Site Search Committee, and Outreach Committee.
1999 Co-op incorporates as Northampton Community Cooperative Market, Inc. Board of Directors established. Newsletter and e-mail listserv launched. Planning grants received from MA Department of Food and Agriculture, and Community Involved in Sustainable Agriculture (CISA). Feasibility study conducted.
2000 Development grant received from Solidago. Rural Business Enterprise Grant received from US Department of Agriculture. Cooperative Development Institute develops a business plan with support from CDS Consulting. In historic first Annual Meeting and first vote, member-owners choose the name “River Valley Market”. Grant received from an anonymous family foundation. Membership exceeds 200.
2001 First market study completed by CDS Consulting. Hill and Dale Mall chosen as strong potential site. Board policies for governance adopted. Rochelle Prunty hired as General Manager. Plan B Design hired for store design, architectural plans and construction planning. Hill and Dale site negotiations between developer and property owner falter; new site search begins. Membership reaches 1,000.
2002 Member-owners vote to continue looking for a site in Northampton. Negotiations begin on Potpourri Mall site. Co-op receives $25K grant from Mass Development. Green Team forms and creates design charrette. Co-op member-owner survey conducted; 70% of owners respond. Membership reaches 1,300.
2003 Detailed plans developed for Potpourri Mall site. Massachusetts Technology Collaborative provides $400,000+ Green Building Grant. Co-op purchases liquor license. Potpourri Mall site deed restriction found prohibiting grocery sales. Salaried General Manager position discontinued. Rochelle continues to work with the Board of Directors on a volunteer basis. Membership votes to continue efforts to secure a store location. Membership reaches 1,500.
2004 Cooperative Grocers’ Association Northeast (CGANE) provides $100,000; this leverages National Cooperative Bank Development Corporation (NCBDC) $50,000 Business Planning Advance. National Cooperative Bank (NCB) extends $100,000 line of credit. Salaried General Manager position reinstated first on a part-time, then a full-time basis. North King Street Old Quarry site is secured with long term land lease agreement. Community forums held to discuss Old Quarry site plan. Berkshire Design Group hired for site planning Western Massachusetts Enterprise Fund and Coastal Enterprises begin work on tax credit financing. Co-op Power supports Green Building Grant management and grant is transferred to new site.
2005 City of Northampton approves site rezoning, site plan, and special permit. City of Northampton Community Development Block Grant approved. Business plan is finalized and preliminary construction budgets developed. Member loan campaign raises $1 million dollars. Membership reaches 1,600.
2006 Co-op signs lease and takes possession of Old Quarry site. General contractor is selected. Membership exceeds 1,800 and meets equity goals for financing requirements. Financing plan finalized with Bank of Western Massachusetts, CEI Capital, TransCapital, Western Massachusetts Enterprise Fund, National Cooperative Bank Capital Impact, Cooperative Fund of New England, and the Local Enterprise Assistance Fund. Florence Savings Bank also agrees to provide support.
2007 Co-op closes on all financing. Construction begins. Community celebrates ground-breaking. River Valley Market and Woodlands Timber Cooperative member-owners raise timber frame porch in the front of the store. Membership exceeds 2,000.
2008 Member-owner volunteers plant native perennials on the store site. Construction on green building completed. Emmett Leader installs entryway tile art project. Five job fairs held at Franklin-Hampshire Career Center, with hundreds of interviews conducted and approximately 70 staff members hired. Membership exceeds 2,500. Co-op opens for business! Now the real work begins.
2014 Co-op celebrates 6th year of operation, serving more than 10,000 customers weekly. Co-op purchases over $3.7 million in local foods from farmers and other local vendors. Over $20 million overall annual sales in 6th year of operations. Over 130 employees work at the Co-op. Membership exceeds 6,700. Members support refinancing with over $2.4 million in member loans.
2014 June Co-op is awarded the Howard K. Bowers Fund Cooperative Excellence Award at the National
Consumer Co-op Management Association Conference for:
- Commitment to excellence
- Commitment to our members and our community
- Support to local farmers and producers
- Strengthening the regional economy
- Support to local, regional, and national
- Cooperative efforts
2014 October Remodel phase 1 begins, Deli and Front End get updated fixtures, paint, and new register added.
2015 Remodel phase 2 begins, higher capacity grocery shelving, new bulk bins, wine & cheese redo, improved wellness department layout, HVAC update for better temperature control, new energy efficient coolers and lighting, new signage & logo. Rebranding with new name and logo also begins.