Loan Client Spotlight: Bluff Country Co-op
Bluff Country Co-op Staff and Owners planting rain garden
Bluff Country Co-op began in 1972 as a small grocery store located in Winona, Minnesota with various local and organic foods. Bluff Country Co-op has since expanded and can serve many more residents of Winona. After moving to a new space in 2000, Bluff Country doubled their business in the next year. Since then, love for the co-op has not ceased. In 2015, they bought the whole 10,400 square foot warehouse, yet needed some financial assistance to expand into the new space.
To complete the expansion, Bluff Country Co-op recently received a loan from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) through SMIF's revolving loan fund, in addition to loans from Winona County, City of Winona, and Home Federal Bank.
"This loan will help us expand our store to nearly double the current size, which will allow us to support more local farmers, continue to promote healthy eating habits, contribute to our city's downtown revitalization efforts, and strengthen our local economy." -Melissa Gordon, Marketing and Owner Services Manager
There will be 6,100 square feet of retail space. In addition to the existing departments seeing major increases, they are also adding a bakery department with fresh bread and pastries. With over 1,600 owners of the co-op, additional space is much needed and will be well used once construction is complete. Bluff Country Co-op is moving from a small grocer to a full line grocery store for the whole community to enjoy.
Bluff Country Co-op prides itself on becoming the first certified Fair Trade Grocery Store in the country in 2009. The co-op is unlike traditional grocery stores; it is rooted in cooperative principles like community, voluntary and open membership, economic participation, and cooperation. Bluff Country Co-op also benefits the community. In a study commissioned by the National Co-op Grocers in 2012, for every dollar spent at a food co-op, $0.38 is reinvested in the local economy compared to $0.24 at conventional grocers.
SMIF encourages you to shop local and support your community!