BENNINGTON — A nonprofit group has secured a $200,000 loan from the town and wants to open a grocery store at 239 Main St., site of the former LaFlamme’s Furniture business.
According to a statement by the group, “The Bennington Community Market will be a small nonprofit grocery store located in the heart of downtown Bennington that promotes sustainable local agriculture, downtown revitalization and healthy food for everyone.”
Aila West, who is also a member of the group, serves as the assistant director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action (Bennington College). She said that the organization is. “working with a local architecture firm and contractor to build out a commercial kitchen.”
She said that the store will have a variety of merchandise. “a prepared-food counter, coffee bar, small indoor seating area and additional outdoor seating. We hope to open our doors to the community in late spring 2022.”
West stated that the prepared-food section will include an deli counter with fresh soups and other ready to eat items, priced at the pound.
The market will also offer baked goods that are prepared daily. It is expected that the market will be open seven consecutive days a week.
Total start-up costs for the market will be around $540,000, according to the group’s application to the Bennington Revolving Loan Fund for a $200,000 loan, which has been approved by the Select Board.
According to the loan application, and the business plan, there is more than 4,500 sq. feet of space in the building that can be used for a market.
The former location was used as an auto dealer. It also has on-site parking and a delivery entrance. There is also a warehouse and office space.
West stated that the group was “still working out the membership model, so details on that are forthcoming. We will gladly accept donations to the market, and will have a website up soon for online donations.”
The group plans to work with the Bennington Farmers’ Market and the Regenerative Food Network to provide fresh produce and other foods.
Among other members of the nonprofit group’s board are Susan Sgorbati, director of CAPA at the college; Tatiana Abatemarco, also of Bennington College; Becky Arbella, of Shires Housing; Crystal Gardner, of Hilltop Farm; Bill Laberge, of Grassroots Solar and the Regenerative Food Network; Rick Morgenthal, of Lever Inc., and Michael Philipp, of the Regenerative Food Network.
State Rep. David Durfee of Shaftsbury, who was previously the manager of Wild Oats Market, Williamstown, Mass., is one of the listed advisors to this group.Maria Scully (ex-owner/operator/bookkeeper of Powers Market in North Bennington); Nancy Shuttleworth, Vermont Small Business Development Center; Shannon Barsotti Bennington Community Development Director and Callie Fishburn, Bennington County Regional Commission.
Barsotti stated that the proposal addresses one of the most important needs for downtown identified in the Citizen Survey on town issues.
She also pointed out that new housing has been built around the Four Corners of the Putnam Block development, or is being planned. A commercial building with housing on its upper floors is proposed for the vacant lot at Depot Street.
Jim Therrien writes about Vermont News and Media. He is also a contributor to the Brattleboro Reformer, Manchester Journal and Bennington Banner. Email [email protected]