Lovettsville Co-op Details Grocery Plans; Begins Capital Campaign

Lovettsville residents may be as little as 18 months away from getting the opportunity to shop for groceries without leaving town.

The Lovettsville Cooperative Market held its annual meeting virtually Thursday night for its leaders, consultants and contracted developers to discuss plans to build the co-op’s downtown community grocery store, which will open on the Town Square as early as September 2022. They also outlined the capital campaign planned to raise a portion of the $2.6 million necessary for the project.

Detailing those plans was Gary Large, the president of Eco Developers—the company that will build the 7,000-square-foot grocery store on the empty parcel of land adjacent to the existing businesses on the Town Square. Large said his team plans to begin the 10-month construction project in September.

The co-op plans for the grocery store to be open seven days a week and will feature a deli and grab-and-go lunch and dinner meals. It will also be stocked with local beer and wine. co-op Chairman John DeSaix said 75% of the items the grocery store sells would be natural and/or organic. When the grocery store opens, the co-op will also have the opportunity to feature street-side dining out front.

Large said the building would be energy efficient, would complement the town’s architecture and would be located in an “amazing and prominent” spot in the downtown area. He noted that his company is working out a deal with a composting company to allow for the eco-friendly disposal of refuse. He said that was “very rare on a commercial scale.”

DeSaix said the co-op plans to eventually expand into the building’s full 14,000 square feet of space.

Large said the Lovettsville co-op’s grocery store project was the highlight of his career.

“I’m really excited about bringing this project online and making it a reality,” he said.

To bring the project to fruition, the co-op plans to raise $1.6 million via member investments to fund about 60% of construction. Ben Sandel, a consultant with the Columinate national consulting cooperative, outlined those plans Thursday night.

Sandel said the co-op would ask members for $2,000-minimum loans for a period of 15 years, for which they’ll accrue up-to 6% annual interest. The co-op will pay back the principal on those loans beginning in year 11.

DeSaix said the co-op is not soliciting investments from people other than co-op member-owners.

Sandel pointed out that Columinate helped the Fredericksburg Co-op raise $2 million, the Common Market Co-op raise $1 million and the River Valley Co-op raise $5 million.

The remaining $1 million to fund the project will come predominantly from a bank loan, followed by member-owner equity and landlord contributions.

DeSaix said co-op membership has rapidly increased in the last year and a half, up from 500 to nearly 650. He noted that the co-op’s social media engagements in the last 30 days were also up by more than 1,000%.

“Our membership is exploding,” he said.

Learn more about the co-op, or sign up to become a member-owner, at lovettsville-grocery.com.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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