Fredericksburg Food Coop pops up on annual Wish List poll | Local Business
For years, Sarah Norton has listed Trader Joe’s as her choice in The Free Lance–Star’s annual Wish List for the retailer or restaurant she’d most like to see open in the Fredericksburg area.
But the Spotsylvania County resident changed her mind in this latest go-round of suggestions.
“Well, a TJ would still be nice but we are giving up …our desire now is to see the Fredericksburg Food Co-op open a store,” Norton wrote in an email to the paper. “We are convinced that in some ways the co-op would be better than a TJ. Local Food Coops specialize in local products, have great community interest and promote healthier eating.”
Although Trader Joe’s, a grocery chain noted for its Hawaiian-shirt clad staff and store-brand goodies remains the No. 1 most-wanted retailer or restaurant in the Wish List poll—it had more than twice as many votes as runners up Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant and The Cheesecake Factory—the Fredericksburg Food Co-op came in fourth place.
This is the first time that the co-op has appeared on the poll, which gave readers a chance to pick their favorite from the 16 retailers and restaurants that got more than two suggestions for the Wish List. There were about 100 suggestions, from an Apple store—which came in sixth place in the poll, to a Zaxby’s, which just missed getting on it.
The Fredericksburg Food Co-op got its start in 2015. Since then, nearly 600 people have paid the $200 fee to join. The group needs 1,000 households before it can open a store in downtown Fredericksburg.
“Ours will be a full-service grocery store approximately 10,000 square feet in size (similar to the size of a Trader Joe’s), open morning to night every day!,” wrote Valerie Setzer of Stafford County, who is on the co-op’s board of directors. “It will focus on local sourcing for produce, dairy and many other locally produced and grown products such as honey, breads, and other goods, as well as other produce not grown here. We will strive to offer as much organic, certified naturally grown and/or ‘no spray’ produce as possible.”
There are only two food co-ops in Virginia. The one in Roanoke has been in existence for 46 years and recently added a small branch. The other is in Harrisonburg. It got its start in 2006 and opened its store in 2011.
Having one here would give Fredericksburg “a cutting edge,” wrote Gloria Lloyd of Fredericksburg.
Two other grocery stores made the Wish List’s Top 10. Whole Foods, a perennial contender, came in seventh place. Harris Teeter, which is expected to open a warehouse in Caroline County, came in 10th. Mosaic Aquia Capital LLC had sought tax incentives from Stafford County so it could bring a Harris Teeter grocery store to Aquia Town Center, but has withdrawn its request.
Isaac Pretter, a principal at Mosaic Realty Partners, said the company is “still working diligently to make it something that the residents in Aquia Harbor and all of Stafford County will be proud of,” but couldn’t comment on any specifics about what’s coming to the development.
Other businesses that made the Wish List Top 10 included Dave & Busters, which came in fifth; Mellow Mushroom, eighth, and Boston Market, ninth. Several readers not only raved about these restaurants, but even suggested possible locations for two of them. John Davis and Crystal Jennings both recommended the former Mimi’s Cafe in Cosner’s Corner shopping center as the site for a Mellow Mushroom.
“The old Mimi’s Cafe has been sitting empty for a long time and would be a perfect location,” wrote Jennings. “Our family loves their food and fun restaurants! I know there are many places for pizza, but not like this and definitely not as good!”
Mike Musselman, who lives in southern Stafford, suggested the former A&W/Long John Silver’s building in Central Park as a possible site for a Boston Market because it’s the right size. That building, however, is being remodeled as a Starbucks. Meanwhile, Patty Scogin Johnson, who lives on U.S. 17 in Stafford, recommended that the chain look for a spot along that corridor.
“This is a heavily populated (commuters and I-95 travelers), growing area,” she wrote. “If we could get a Boston Market up this way they’d have a wealth of customers. As it is we seldom go out for dinner because we’d have to drive up to the Spotsy Mall area in all that traffic, and frequently have to wait in line to get a seat.”