Agricole Farm Stop, a new grocery store focused on local produce, is expected to open this June at 110 Jackson St. in downtown Chelsea.
Agricole aims to support the local farm economy by selling locally-grown food and giving farmers 75 percent of the selling price. Its concept is similar to a year-round indoor farmer's market, but with only one checkout for customer ease.
Agricole's cofounders are Sharon Norton, Kathy Kennedy, Abby Hurst, and Patrick Zieske. Zieske says Agricole was inspired by Ann Arbor's Argus Farm Stop. Argus has been successful as a farmer-focused, local-produce business model, and has two locations in Ann Arbor on Liberty and Packard Streets.
Argus' cofounders presented their business concept to Chelsea residents in a Transition Town Chelsea meeting four years ago. Zieske says that presentation sparked the Agricole cofounders' passion for creating a similar business in Chelsea.
"We were so excited about this, and knew we had to start something like this in Chelsea," Zieske says. "We began looking for a place and people to get it started."
After years of working with other community members and seeking the right location, Agricole cofounders have now begun daily training at Argus to prepare for their grand opening this summer.
"Argus sees it as their mission to help other businesses like theirs," Zieske says. "They share everything they've learned from this business ... and are always available."
Once Agricole opens, customers can expect a coffee shop, patio, and year-round locally-sourced goods. When local produce is harder to attain, Zieske says dry goods will still be available in the store.
In the final months before the store opens, Agricole will host a crowdfunding campaign to raise additional funds for business costs. The campaign runs Feb. 15-March 31 and will be advertised on Agricole's website and Facebook page. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), one of Agricole's investors, plans to match all donations up to $50,000 dollar for dollar.
Zieske says he is most looking forward to Agricole becoming a part of Chelsea's community.
"I'm excited to interact with the farmers, and for those producers and customers to interact," Zieske says. "And those unusual foods. We've seen some pretty interesting things (like pawpaw fruit), and I can't wait to have those in the store."
Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Agricole Farm Stop.