NORTH MANKATO — Could the Skillings office in lower North Mankato be the future site of the Mankato Food Co-op?
Member Bayard Black says it certainly could be. Some day. But it doesn’t look like any time soon.
Across the front windows of the downtown office on Belgrade Avenue are the words: Do you want a grocery store/co-op? The email address of the Mankato Food Co-op group follows.
The neon scrawl is leading some to think the co-op is planning on moving into the location, which is next door to Dino’s Pizzeria.
“No, it’s not officially the location at all,” Black said.
He said the effort is a new marketing strategy, a way to help people visualize a co-op in that location and others. The group plans to put up similar signs in other yet-to-be determined locations. They may also work on putting out yard signs throughout town.
Public interest has grown stagnant the past few months with membership numbers in the 40s, Black said. That’s only about 20 more memberships than spring of 2011, when The Free Press last reported membership numbers. The group’s goal is about 1,500.
“We, as a group, have kind of come a ways and then momentum kind of stopped for a little while,” Black said.
With little fundraising progress made in the past year, the group is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“We’ve just been laying back and watching what transpires,” he said. “The economy kind of took a turn, and health food became something that wasn’t so important to people any more. ... I think when the timing’s right, it will fly.”
Black, who also has a membership at the St. Peter Food Co-op, said he believes wholeheartedly in the importance of quality food for people’s health, quoting what he says someone wise once told him.
“You either pay now, or you pay later,” he said.
Black said the committee has built a solid foundation and Web presence for the co-op. It’s up to the community to respond with support for the project to move forward, he said.
“I know it will happen. I just don’t know when,” he said.