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It's Official: Kootenay Co-op enters into contract to purchase Extra Foods building on Vernon Street

Customers enter the Extra Foods store on Vernon Street Monday that will soon be the home of the Kootenay Co-op.

by Bruce Fuhr, The Nelson Daily

The worst kept secret in Nelson has finally been let out of the bag.

The Kootenay Co-op is moving into the building currently housing the Extra Foods grocery store at corner of Vernon and Baker Street.

The local cooperative has entered into a contract to purchase the building at 708 Vernon Street from the Howes Family Business.

 “Ya, after years and years of rumours circulating about us moving to the Extra Foods building, it’s finally come true,” Kootenay Co-op General Manager Deirdrie Lang told The Nelson Daily Monday.

The possession date is June 1, 2012.

The current lease agreement between the owners of Extra Foods and the Howes Family Business expires May 31, 2012.

However, Lang said it would take months before the new store is fully operational.

“Before we can move in we need to have building gone over, inspected and assessed to find out the work needed to go into the new store,” said Lang.

“So it’s going to be a work in progress.”

“We ask our members to be very patient with us and come along for the ride because it’s going to be fun,” Lang added.

The purchase is the second kick at the 708 Vernon Street building for Kootenay Co-op.

The two parties had a lease-agreement place but the Co-op decided to opt-out of the deal when “rates exceeded what was considered to be optimal for the Co-op.”

“Financially this deals for us is much better,” Lang explained. “If we’d agreed to lease we would have no control over rent payments so the purchase option is much better for us.”

Lang said it was obvious for many years the Kootenay Co-op needed to find a new location.

The Co-op is bursting at the seams at the current 7200 square foot Baker Street location that has 4800 square feet used for retail.

The Howes Family Business building is 18,500 square feet.

Lang said it would be some time before the retail size of the new store is determined.

“This is very, very early in our getting a new store,” said Lang, adding staff was informed of the news Sunday night. “The first step is acquiring the property. Now we can start the serious planning around the new store.”

Extra Foods is owned and operated by Loblaw Companies Limited.

When contacted by The Nelson Daily, the media relations department released this statement.

“The reason for the closure of this Extra Foods location is that the lease agreement we have with the land owner will expire at the end of May 2012,” Craig Ware, Corporate Affairs Director, Loblaw Companies Limited said in an email release.

“We are working with the union to support our colleagues during this time of transition.

“Currently there are no plans to open another Extra Foods location in Nelson. We’d like to thank our customers for their patronage over the years and our colleagues for their dedication and support.”

The Kootenay Co-op currently employs 70 people.

Lang said she feels for the staff losing jobs at Extra Foods. And while the new store will definitely need more staff, it may be months before those Extra Foods workers would be offered a position.

The next step in the purchase is a Special General Meeting to be held on Monday, March 19 at the Best Western Baker Street Inn.

An important resolution is to be put forward to the more than 10,000 members that enable the purchase to move forward.

The meeting is scheduled for at 7 p.m.