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Lexington Co-op nears campaign goal for new market

A community-owned grocery store found in the heart of Buffalo's Elmwood Village is hoping to open a second location in North Buffalo next spring, provided it can reach its capital campaign goal of $2 million.

If the Lexington Co-Op is able to meet the goal, their plan is to move forward with construction of a new grocery store on Hertel Avenue. With just under $1.5 million raised so far, Co-Op officials are hoping to raise the rest by the end of this month by making one more aggressive push for pledges from some of its thousands of co-owners.

"We have a number of people who have been on the fence or want to make an investment but haven't yet settled on an amount," said Tim Bartlett, general manager of the Lexington Co-Op.

The Co-Op can only accept pledges for the capital campaign from its shareholders. Members of the public can become a co-owner by making a one-time payment of $80 for a share. Once enrolled as a co-owner, an individual would be eligible for a dividend in years when the market turns a profit.

Located on Elmwood Avenue since 2005 after spending more than 30 years on Lexington Avenue, the Co-Op spent more than $1 million on the acquisition of locally produced foods to sell. According to Bartlett, locally-produced foods account for about 30 percent of the Co-Op's sales.

Officials hosted a meeting Wednesday night with shareholders to discuss the plan to open a second store on Hertel Avenue. Bartlett tells WBFO there's a general feeling of excitement about making a second market available to a neighborhood which, like many other Buffalo neighborhoods, has enjoyed redevelopment in recent years.

"We've had several people who have committed to investing $10,000 and then, when they come in to do the paperwork, they've increased their amounts to $50,000. We've had three different people who have done that, which has really been inspiring" said Bartlett, who did not identify those investors. "They just talk about how they love the Co-Op and how they want to see it grow and thrive, so they're investing in it."

The new market is planned for where a former CVS drug store stood but closed many years ago. 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.