The ongoing project will be the talk of the co-op’s Summer Potluck Picnic this Saturday, Aug. 16 (2-6 p.m.) at Camp Tekoa off Crab Creek Road. Dining starts about 5 p.m. Self-Help is hosting a social celebrating the co-op project, at its Hendersonville branch. It is coincidentally on Sept. 11, 11 a.m. to noon, Branch Manager Amber Justice noted.
The smaller classroom/kitchen structure is taking shape, and the store foundation is going in, at 899 Spartanburg Hwy. (U.S. 176). That is around the corner from the current, longtime 725 S. Grove location. The new site is on the south side of 176, a half-mile east of the Greenville Highway near the bridge. It is just east of the closed Enmark gas station, Precision Tune then Self Help. The co-op entrance will be off S. Charleston St. A sidewalk is extending along that road, and parking lot curbs are in.
The kitchen can expand on the co-op’s popular deli, which has had such recent specials as lamb burger. Plans are for the new store’s kitchen to also serve an educational purpose. Demonstrations will be in “classes to teach (co-op) owners and the (general) public how to cook healthy, delicious, and low cost meals,” HCC General Manager Damian Tody stated in a newsletter. This coincides with the co-op role of teaching how to “grow, cook and eat food in healthy ways.” Other objectives are to provide quality, nutritious and tasty products; to be a “vibrant social scene for sharing ideas and skills and just having fun” and to operate democratically as a local cooperative business.
The next board meeting is Friday, Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. in the annex behind the current store. The next Local Foods Day is Tuesday, Aug. 19 at Hands On! A Child’s Gallery on Main St.
The food co-op began in 1978, was incorporated in 1983 and last expanded 15 years ago. Membership has grown from 15 founding families to about 2,200 family and individuals shares. The new store’s green designs include solar hot water, which cuts costs for the community room and offices.
“It is fun to see all of that hard work pay off, and to see the new store start to become reality,” Tody said. He noted the co-op has been selling preferred shares to afford optional amenities.
Tody said its basic project is “fully funded” partly by donations and the rest by financing clinched with closing on all loans by late May.
Self-Help caters to smaller and starter businesses and non-profits, among others, and as member-owned has a co-op flavor in its own operation, its officials noted. They point out $1.2 million in loans have been issued with money invested in Go Local CDs, begun last year to aid local businesses and home buyers.
Non-profit parent Center for Community Self-Help (Self-Help) serves “those left out of the economic mainstream.” It helps charter schools and child care centers and others with “fair and responsible” loans, and started the credit in 1984. SHCU issues commercial loans out of its headquarters in Durham, and charges enough fees to cover costs. Its sister credit union is California. Self-Help is the seventh-largest credit union in the Tar Heel State with over $640 million in assets, a company spokesman further said. There are 10 WNC branches, including Arden and Rosman. The local annual customer/membership meeting is Aug. 23.
The bank next to the co-op site and its Penrose branch were previously in the 7,000-member Carolina Mountains Credit Union. The Penrose site served DuPont X-ray film plant workers in 1974 to 2001, then the Hendersonville and other branches opened. They kept the CMCU name since joining Self-Help five years ago, until June 1 when becoming Self-Help. Self-Help months ago added Asheville-based United Services Credit Union and its 11,000 members. United began in 1954, for Mission hospital workers.
“Self-Help” reflects self-reliance and entrepreneurship, noted Laverne Pearson of Laurel Park. She works in the branch next to the Penrose Post Office in Transylvania County, by Old U.S. 64 and Crab Creek Road near U.S. 64. She also belongs to the food co-op. Thus, Pearson is especially happy for the financing partnership, and the upcoming new co-op store.
For more on HCC, call 693-0505 or check www.hendersonville.coop/Home. For more on Self Help Credit Union, call the Hendersonville branch at 233-1140 or check self-help.org.