River Valley Co-op nears finish line in Easthampton

  • A second River Valley Co-op location is on track to open this summer in Easthampton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/ROCHELLE PRUNTY

Staff Writer
Published: 4/23/2021 10:07:53 AM

EASTHAMPTON — River Valley Co-op is on track to open its Easthampton location in late June, according to the grocery store’s management.

The cooperatively owned store has set a target opening date of June 23, according to General Manager Rochelle Prunty, and expects to employ around 65-70 people for its opening. Prunty expects that staffing levels will soon after grow to about 100 employees.

The structure at 228 Northampton St. remains under construction, though it’s looking more like a competed project: Much of the remaining work to be done includes putting up steel canopies for solar panels, which will provide most of the store’s electricity; placing finishing touches on landscaping work; and installing smaller details indoors, such as shelving.

“Our goal has been to get open before or by July 1,” Prunty said, “so I think we’re on track with that … It’s all coming together.”

Solar panels in the parking lot and on the building’s roof will generate over 900 kilowatts of power, according to Prunty. Given the high levels of energy that grocery stores require for refrigeration, Prunty said it’s uncommon for them to run mostly on solar power.

The co-op’s Northampton location also uses solar energy to power the store, though not to the degree planned for the Easthampton store.

The co-op has started some hiring for its Easthampton location, but most hiring will be done in early June, Prunty said. The co-op currently employs around 170 people.

The new location is being established in an effort “to be more accessible to more people,” Prunty said, noting that many co-op owners already lived in Easthampton prior to the location being finalized. The idea of a second store first surfaced in 2014.

Prunty expects that the Northampton store, located at 330 North King St., will remain the busier of the two locations, anticipating that Easthampton will achieve about half of the Northampton location’s level of business.

The Easthampton building is slightly larger in size, Prunty said, and will comprise one floor containing the grocery store area and business offices. The location will also include some indoor seating, a “substantial outdoor seating area,” and more than double the parking spaces available in Northampton.

The grocery store currently has over 12,000 co-op owners, Prunty said, and set a goal of adding 3,000 more before the new location opens. Ownership is not required to shop at the grocery store. As a co-op, the store is entirely owned by these co-op owners, with each able to purchase one $150 equity share per owner.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the River Valley Co-op’s anticipated opening date in Easthampton.J acquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.

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