Member Message, December 6, 2023 Important Updates for Our Future
Lost River Market Member-Owners and Community Supporters,
The official news is that Lost River Market and Deli will temporarily pause retail operations on December 23 to do an exploration of restructuring, targeting reopening in the spring of 2024.
Inventory sales have begun this week with discounted items featured each of the next three weeks.
The Deli will remain open through December 23, including catering some large events. They will be able to do event catering through much of January and February dependent upon remodeling activities so please discuss any needs you might have with deli staff.
The overall plan is to restructure Lost River Market into a micro-market, smaller in space and grocery categories. The plan is to still feature the same local meats, produce, bulk items and refrigerated products with fewer packaged goods on the shelves. You can still get your favorite packaged items by special ordering them. The special ordering process will be revamped to make it easier for you to use with more consistent delivery. You may be able to special order items as well as local meat including Miller chicken, throughout the temporary pause time. We'll keep you posted.
The deli and seating area may be enlarged to create a more “cafe” like atmosphere. Some physical remodeling will be done including a complete change out of the retail coolers and freezer areas. We hope to exchange this older equipment with smaller, more efficient refrigerated units.
PLEASE PARTICIPATE! A visioning corner is set up near the office where you can state what is important to keep in the restructured store. There are also cards where you can draw your suggested plan for the layout of the deli/cafe and micro-market. Your opinions are truly needed as we go forward.
Other news: For the last five years Lost River Market has been developing several projects that aggregate local produce/products and distributes them in a variety of ways. The purpose of each of these was to encourage local growers to grow more, to collect and package local products and to develop new markets to reach new customers for local vendors. Of course, the shelves of Lost River Market and products used by the deli were one avenue of sales support for local vendors. But we also developed an aggregated Community Supported Agriculture (CSA's) that delivered produce boxes for 20 weeks during the growing season. We worked with IU – Center for Rural Engagement and the Orange County Community Foundation to fund Food as Medicine programs in a four county area. In 2023 we provided over 1,000 mealkits to participants in educational programs conducted by Purdue Extension offices throughout the area. We also introduced outreach farmstands in several communities, again aggregating and distributing local produce to increase access to local food.
A new non-profit (501c3) organization is being formed to house all of the programs above and more.
It is basically a food hub with its own board of directors. As a non-profit it will be better able to procure grant funds to grow these programs to reach even more and different consumer groups and locations. A 13-member steering committee met last month to being the 501c3 application and form the structure of the new organization which is still searching for a name.
The work of the food hub can be done by sharing the Lost River Market building and staff resources. It will use back room storage, coolers and freezers plus work space.
Other news: The sale of our existing building is being explored. It is an asset that could be used to eliminate debt such as our mortgage, and outstanding balances. It will be listed with the Orange County Economic Development Partnership to see what might arise. Possibly a buyer who rents the space back to us for retail space, cafe space and food hub work space....or possibly a sale that lets us look at alternative spaces.
There is a lot of work to do. First the dismantling of old equipment and the familiar layout of the store.
Then comes new ideas....new opportunities. We'll call on members and supporters to share ideas, roll up sleeves and paint, and support a restructured store and cafe. In the end we want to renew our mission to serve consumers, growers and the communities to which we belong.
Call a Lost River Market staff member to ask questions, offer suggestions, sign up to help or just stay in touch. That's 812-723-3735.