If you were part of a November exit study at City Market, you may recall staff members asking where you live. You might have wondered if the co-op was planning to follow you home. The answer is yes, sort of. General manager Clem Nilan has announced that the co-op board plans to open a second neighborhood location in the greater Burlington area.
G2G Research Group, a California-based consulting company that specializes in market research for co-ops, identified the need for a second store. It mentioned City Market's "very high sales per square foot performance level" and parking issues as indicators that shoppers might have a better experience if they weren't all packed into one location. The good news, says Nilan, is that the study confirmed Burlington's ability to seamlessly absorb another store. Two less crowded stores with easier parking, instead of one congested one, looked like the obvious way to go, says Nilan.
The researchers examined the micropopulations of the Archibald Street area in northern Burlington, downtown Winooski, and the Pine Street corridor in the South End to see which could best sustain a new market. According to Nilan, Pine Street won out, but that doesn't mean they're shopping South End real estate just yet. "We have to really begin our internal process," he explains. "We work with a board of directors. We have to vet a project against our policies."
Nilan says that he and the board are still at the very beginning of the road toward expansion and he's not willing to name even a vague opening date. "I used to be in the restaurant business for years," he says. "Things always take more time than you think they will. We haven’t even gotten to the point of seriously looking at different sites."
Whatever they settle on, Nilan says that because it will be in a neighborhood, the new spot will likely be smaller than the current 16,000-square-foot store, but will be at least 5000 square feet. Nonetheless, he explains that it will be a full-service co-op, with all or most of the amenities shoppers have come to expect from City Market.