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Lexington Co-op’s Annual Meeting & Draft Shared Vision for Expansion

By Patrick Finan (Co-op Board Member):
Last Wednesday, more than 200 people gathered in the Nardin Academy cafeteria and gym to eat together, learn together, and grow together while celebrating Lexington Co-op’s 40th anniversary at its annual meeting.  At the packed record-setting event, member-owners shared diverse and lively discussion on coop operations, voted for Board Members, premiered a Co-op documentary film and participated in a portion of the meeting dedicated to gathering feedback on the Co-op’s upcoming expansion.
This April, after a year of study, communications with member-owners, and reflection, the Co-op’s Board of Directors set a goal of doubling retail square footage by 2015 based on identified needs of increased demand. Over the summer, the results of meetings with more than 100 member-owners plus survey interviews with additional member-owners were collated. After reviewing this feedback, plus letters and emails, the board adopted a Draft Shared Vision that is broad enough to allow exploration of multiple options while being specific enough to energize the more than 8,000 member-owners.
The four tenets of the Draft Shared Vision express the Co-op’s future goals as: More accessible. More choices. More impact. More community. 
^A teaser for the film. The entire film will be released in the coming weeks, and be available for sale at Lexington Co-op. 
Over the next two months, the Co-op will continue soliciting thoughts of member-owners on the Draft Shared Vision, and invite participation by sending an email to expansion@lexington.coop.  Although the board will not consider potential expansion sites until the Draft Shared Vision is refined, one decision has been made:  Lexington Co-op will not be leaving Elmwood Avenue.
Another highlight of the evening was the premiere of a documentary about the history of the Co-op by Buffalo filmmaker John Paget. Paget has recently worked on several films for Visit Buffalo Niagara, including the acclaimed video “Buffalo, NY: This Place Matters.”
Joann Tomasulo, Marketing Director for Lexington Co-op, worked with Paget on the film and hopes that the documentary “will educate Western New Yorkers on the exciting 40-year history of the Co-op, share stories about its Lexington Avenue roots, and remind the community that this is their store, a store we built together, ground up.”
Tomasulo says, “We’ve reached a new day in the Co-op’s history. 200 people attending the annual meeting shows how passionate owners are about their food and their co-op community. The film was exciting to work on; it really isn’t hard to pay tribute to our owners who have worked so tirelessly, shopped regularly and steered their co-op through so many changes. The difficult part is not being able to interview all 8,000 owners!”
Photo Credit: Lexington Co-op

Written by Buffalo Rising

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  • Buffalo_Resurrection

    I believe the expansion concept is an excellent idea, however, where could Lexington Coop possibly expand too in their present location or anywhere within their current vicinity?
    I know this presents a logistics problem but Lexington Coop could expand “up” at their present site but escalators would have to be added to the overall budget escalating (pun intended) the cost.

  • Travelrrr

    I hope a satellite site is seriously considered: downtown, Hertel, Grant, etc. It is wonderful how successful this operation has become, particularly when co-op’s around the country are struggling/closing up shop.

  • SadLlama

    Now’s the time to strongly consider a location downtown to meet the needs of the additional residential units going into place. The building where Burger King used to live would be perfect with access from Washington for deliveries and parking nearby. The 2nd floor would also make for a cool little eatery!

  • skidale73

    Agreed, the old Burger King site on Main Street would be a great spot for another location.

  • Greg

    Where was that again?

  • SadLlama

    Where the 500 block and end of East Mohawk intersect.

  • SadLlama

    Where the 500 block and end of East Mohawk intersect.

  • The Boss

    Seems downtown would generate huge lunch traffic for that segment of the business. Mohawk and main does actually sound right

  • The Boss

    Seems downtown would generate huge lunch traffic for that segment of the business. Mohawk and main does actually sound right

  • WCPerspective

    If we’re suggesting downtown locations- ground floor of AM&As Dept. Store would work. Rocco talked about a market-like use of the ground floor in early plans.

  • WCPerspective

    If we’re suggesting downtown locations- ground floor of AM&As Dept. Store would work. Rocco talked about a market-like use of the ground floor in early plans.

  • Daniel Sack

    A second store is the only good expansion possibility – if expansion is even needed. Allow the Coop to build a 15,000 SF store (10,000 SF retail + 5,000 SF office/warehouse…) and it will open the gate for Walgreen’s and Rite Aid to build their 15,000 SF stores on Elmwood.
    Zoning case law is full of “precedent” allowing variances because it was deemed okay for one developer.
    “Shared vision”? What shared vision? The Coop manager has a vision and he labels it “shared” to make people feel good. There is no shared vision and no consensus yet. The very nice film took up too much time at the meeting and there wasn’t time left for the large meeting that was supposed to happen. People sat at tables with several other people and expressed their thoughts but only some of those ideas were heard by the whole group.
    Very nicely managed by the Coop that is making a pretense of hearing what the members want, without the members actually hearing what other members want.
    There was a brief opportunity for members to about the proposed amendment to the by-laws to allow the sale of beer at the Coop. Six people spoke against the proposal, no one spoke in favor of it, many people could not hear what was said. Was selling beer a “shared vision”? Was buying a house on Auburn a “shared vision”?
    Manager Tim Bartlett tried to scare the members into believing that the Coop is threatened by Trader Joe’s opening up in the area within two years. This is nonsense. First – IF Trader Joe’s opens in the Buffalo area it will open in a Transit Road type of area. Second – the Coop cannot compete with Trader Joe’s, Trader Joe’s buys product for 365 stores and 80% of their products are the Trader Joe’s brand. Third – Trader Joe’s stores (like the one that will be in Pittsford) are around 14,000 SF – can’t build that large a store with the present zoning on Elmwood. Oops – maybe the Coop will make that possible!
    The Coop cannot carry every product shoppers might want. Why would they even try? The present Coop is fine. Long lines at checkout are rare and acceptable.
    From the City Charter “§ 511-155 F.(d) A single-business outlet is allowed to have a maximum floor area of 2,500 square feet per floor and a 5,000 square feet maximum in a single building.”

  • grad94

    well, this claim made me chuckle:
    “more than 200 people gathered…to eat together, learn together, and grow together…”
    as if an annual meeting represents a emotional, spiritual, intellectual, or other kind of epiphany.

  • grad94

    well, this claim made me chuckle:
    “more than 200 people gathered…to eat together, learn together, and grow together…”
    as if an annual meeting represents a emotional, spiritual, intellectual, or other kind of epiphany.

  • The CK

    I think the co-op should expand out to transit or somewhere else out in Amherst. There is so much more action out there and that’s where all the businesses are growing. Parking would be so much better too.

  • The CK

    I think the co-op should expand out to transit or somewhere else out in Amherst. There is so much more action out there and that’s where all the businesses are growing. Parking would be so much better too.

  • The Boss

    I would love AM&A’s, but dare I even say it…what about parking? Maybe curb side free 30min something would work. There is enough room on Burger King corner to build new and still have a small parking lot similar to Elmwood.

  • The Boss

    I would love AM&A’s, but dare I even say it…what about parking? Maybe curb side free 30min something would work. There is enough room on Burger King corner to build new and still have a small parking lot similar to Elmwood.

  • Travelrrr

    I have heard that they are looking at demolishing the house on Auburn for expansion purposes. Again, I would encourage the co-op to look at a different site instead.

  • cool

    I think the perfect “LOCATION” is the blue tile building on Elmwood near Hertel that is in mint condition! It use to be Sorrento Cash & Carry. It has tons of loading docks, refrigeration & freezers I believe, pleanty of parking, office space and its for sale…..great location to clean up that area again…..

  • cool

    I think the perfect “LOCATION” is the blue tile building on Elmwood near Hertel that is in mint condition! It use to be Sorrento Cash & Carry. It has tons of loading docks, refrigeration & freezers I believe, pleanty of parking, office space and its for sale…..great location to clean up that area again…..

  • The Boss

    Is Elmwood-Hertel far enough away from current location? And without sufficient walking traffic they might not get the prepared foods business they need.

  • The Boss

    Is Elmwood-Hertel far enough away from current location? And without sufficient walking traffic they might not get the prepared foods business they need.

  • Buffalo_Resurrection

    I really enjoy my all-too-infrequent visits to the Lexington Co-op and I truly would like to see them expand or build elsewhere on the Elmwood strip.
    However, they tend to be a tad pricey and, periodically, I do miss their more funky-bohemian days when they were located on Lexington Avenue.
    The place I really enjoy and is not often (if ever) mentioned on Buffalo Rising is Guercio and Sons on Grant Street.
    The owner should be given an award for remaining at that location for the past fifty-years!

  • Vison

    I heard someone mention the Co-op was thinking about moving the oranges to a new section. Let me be crystal clear here: if the Co-Op and their “owners” (a.k.a 1%) think they can run wild on my Elmwood and even consider moving those oranges or build an orange stand, not on my watch, not in my back yard. Let me be blunt: reconsider, because if you don’t, then I will refuse to shop at your store for at least a week. Buy local, my a$$, bring us Traders Joe’s. Co”mon hipsters, march with me…

  • Travelrrr

    Well, you do have a point…

  • Travelrrr

    Well, you do have a point…

  • YKYF

    I suggest the ground floor of the Artspace Building at Main and Barker. Good residential density.

  • YKYF

    I suggest the ground floor of the Artspace Building at Main and Barker. Good residential density.

  • YKYF

    I suggest the ground floor of the Artspace Building at Main and Barker. Good residential density.

  • Vison

    but wrong demographic. This is a business.

  • Vison

    but wrong demographic. This is a business.

  • STEEL

    that might be a tough sell to the neighborhood

  • grad94

    what house on auburn?

  • grad94

    what house on auburn?

  • whatever

    If the co-op decides they want to expand where they are, and if the house owner next door really wants to sell it to them, then I’d say let them go ahead.
    They already do a lot of things many of you want businesses to do. Built to the sidewalk. Clear windows. Don’t close up at 6pm. Lots of organics. High prices. Outdoor tables. Even a bike rack.
    If they keep doing all that stuff as you like, why be uptight about how many square feet it is? About the house, doesn’t its owner have a right to remove (or move?) it if he or she wants to – if it isn’t landmarked and isn’t in a pres district?
    Be honest now – don’t at least some of you feel silly in hindsight for complaining about what Pano did? How many people these days ever say they miss that house that used to be there? (Not counting people who say it sarcastically.) Don’t a lot more than that say they like the bigger restaurant, and show it by eating there?

  • Greg

    Allentown would be an appropriate move, if not Downtown.

  • Greg

    Allentown would be an appropriate move, if not Downtown.

  • jtrzewitcowski

    There is a gapping hole where the Aud used to be and I think the co-op might want to consider that spot. Why not really be forward thinking and build the first “box” mega co-op market.A smaller scaled project could occur on Elmwood if the co-op purchased 7-11 and the properties to and including Wasabi. Globe, Wasabi, & 7-11 would need to be demolished. But it would be the first of its kind, a real feather in our cap.

  • RaChaCha

    Again, what house on Auburn–? You have me curious, as the Co-op isn’t on the corner of Auburn.

  • RaChaCha

    Again, what house on Auburn–? You have me curious, as the Co-op isn’t on the corner of Auburn.

  • Daniel Sack

    There is that small matter of the “law”. Property on Auburn is zoned “Residential”.
    How many square feet? Again – zoning does not permit a larger store.
    Pano’s – no I do not eat there, and never will. Believe it or not there are people who don’t shop at the Coop because of their arrogance when they built their present store.
    The most frequent complaint I hear about the Coop is the high prices. If the Coop is doing so well perhaps they should lower the prices.

  • Vison

    You are the problem….

  • Daniel Sack

    654 Auburn sold to “Buffalo City Properties” in August for $198,000. The back of the property is adjacent to the Coop parking lot. Maybe that is the property. Maybe part of the “shared vision”?

  • Daniel Sack

    654 Auburn sold to “Buffalo City Properties” in August for $198,000. The back of the property is adjacent to the Coop parking lot. Maybe that is the property. Maybe part of the “shared vision”?

  • whatever

    “… small matter of the “law”…”
    Yes, of course they shouldn’t do it unless zoning is changed to commercial and sq footage zoning max adjusted by some reasonable amount. Those changes really wouldn’t affect the store’s urban nature (still built to sidewalk and all that other stuff).
    If the city is open minded about those small changes, maybe the co-op should consider trying to buy the next door house on Lancaster and extend the store backward. Then the Auburn house could stay as is.
    “Believe it or not there are people who don’t shop at the Coop…”
    Of course I believe it that some people won’t use some businesses for many different reasons. For example – based on Buffalo First’s apparent hostility toward WNYer jobs at corporate HQs of M&T and First Niagara, I might considering never shopping at any stores involved with Buffalo First. I might not go through with it because boycotting sounds like a hassle, but at least I’ll think about it unless BF stops endorsing demands of the Occupy activists. If I do it, I’m pretty sure it would be my first boycott ever!
    But boycotts or not, Pano’s and the Co-op both seem to draw very good flows of customers, as do Target, Price Rite, Wilson Farms, Walgreens… so these kind of boycotts probably are more like feel-good activities rather than impactful. It seems most people choose to be customers of businesses who provide what they consider good products & service for prices charged, rather than base it on side issues.

  • whatever

    “… small matter of the “law”…”
    Yes, of course they shouldn’t do it unless zoning is changed to commercial and sq footage zoning max adjusted by some reasonable amount. Those changes really wouldn’t affect the store’s urban nature (still built to sidewalk and all that other stuff).
    If the city is open minded about those small changes, maybe the co-op should consider trying to buy the next door house on Lancaster and extend the store backward. Then the Auburn house could stay as is.
    “Believe it or not there are people who don’t shop at the Coop…”
    Of course I believe it that some people won’t use some businesses for many different reasons. For example – based on Buffalo First’s apparent hostility toward WNYer jobs at corporate HQs of M&T and First Niagara, I might considering never shopping at any stores involved with Buffalo First. I might not go through with it because boycotting sounds like a hassle, but at least I’ll think about it unless BF stops endorsing demands of the Occupy activists. If I do it, I’m pretty sure it would be my first boycott ever!
    But boycotts or not, Pano’s and the Co-op both seem to draw very good flows of customers, as do Target, Price Rite, Wilson Farms, Walgreens… so these kind of boycotts probably are more like feel-good activities rather than impactful. It seems most people choose to be customers of businesses who provide what they consider good products & service for prices charged, rather than base it on side issues.