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Amherst Co-op planners aim for downtown spot

Laura Mason, a member of the Amherst Community Co-op Steering Committee, said the group is currently fundraising to hire Cooperative Development Services Consulting of Putney, Vt., which will help determine the size of the market and where it might be located.

Unlike the All Things Local Store, a cooperative featuring food, crafts and other items that is slated to open this fall at 104 North Pleasant St., the Amherst Community Co-op doesn’t yet have a site. “Downtown or as close to downtown as possible is our goal,” Mason said.

Mason said the mission is being accessible to populations by walking, biking, riding a bus and driving. Organizers also hope to keep prices on many products low, countering a reputation that co-ops are pricey.

“We have written it into our objective from the beginning of this project that we’ll work hard to find ways to make sure our prices are affordable,” Mason said.

This will include use of a “basics” program that keeps some of the food items at prices on par with larger grocery stores and supermarkets.

“Our commitment to social justice is a big piece of what makes us stand out,” Mason said.

The Amherst Community Co-op is getting assistance from the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, the Cooperative Fund of New England and the Food Co-op Initiative, she said.

Meanwhile, the groups organizing both Amherst Community Co-op and the All Things Local Store will hold the Amherst Food Forum Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. at Food For Thought Books, 106 North Pleasant St. During the community forum, the groups will present their missions and models and outline their progress. While the two groups are separate, Mason said, they share the goal of increasing access to local food.

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