continued “We started back a few years ago before ShopRite even talked about coming,” Bisgrove said. “We were getting over $10 million in sales and one of the biggest issues was parking, so we started looking at options for more customer parking.”
He said if the market were able to secure additional parking the store would look to expand out into the adjacent lot. Bisgrove had thought about putting a community room into the store and an area for cooking and other activities, but that is on hold for now.
“We had lots of good ideas and then we boiled down to what’s really practical,” he said. “From that we boiled it down to, let’s look at what we have and what we can work with. We did a survey of all of our members … and they basically liked what we had.”
Membership costs have remained at the same price since the 1940s, which is $5, he added. There are also exclusive coupons and savings sent to members.
“Since there aren’t as many independent stores out there the local market has gotten smaller,” he said. “It is getting a lot better.”
The desire to buy local and the popularity of farmers markets has helped the store attract new customers to the alternative market. Bisgrove said the produce can be purchased more locally in recent years.
Ben Wallach, marketing director for the Co-op said, “We can help them and they can help us … it is a part of sustainable agriculture, because we need to support local farmers.”
Bisgrove said there are a lot of “unusual” items at the Co-op that usually aren’t in chain supermarkets.
“I think the big thing is that we realize that our customers own us, so we are totally in tune to what customers ask us,” Bisgrove said. “We are not driven by any company out there that comes in and says we want so much shelf space … we don’t sell one inch of shelf space.”