Local First Grocer, which opened last year at 116 Canon Ave., closed over the weekend, leaving the 1,200-square-foot space unoccupied.
Anna’s Apothecary, which had operated a small retail counter within the grocery, and Colorado Springs-based Radiantly Raw chocolate company will fill the space and reopen in May, said apothecary owner Anna Papini and chocolatier Jacquie Mosher.
Former LFG manager and board member Luke Cissell told the Business Journal Monday that the organization is waiting to comment on the closure until a letter is sent from its board.
The campaign to kickstart Local First Grocer began Oct. 22, 2013, when Manitou Springs City Council unanimously passed a resolution to promote, among other things, access to healthy foods. The store was co-founded by Elise Rothman d’Hauthuille and opened the following May.
“We believe that [Manitou Springs] City Council will see the value that this project brings to the city, economically, health-wise, and in terms of food sovereignty and social capital, especially in light of the recent healthy living resolution,” d’Hauthuille told the Business Journal in January 2014.
The store promised to be Manitou’s only full-line grocery — the closest had been Safeway on the Westside of Colorado Springs — a co-op of more than 100 farmers, growers, mixers and makers specializing in the production of all-natural, organic products. But, not long after its opening, infighting soon began due to disagreements about the store’s business model (a hybrid model that would cause it to operate like a nonprofit, with a board and additional support from grants and investors), its management structure and financial issues.
The board voted to fire d’Hauthuille just weeks after the store’s grand opening, and the business continued to suffer. The store closed sometime over the weekend and had been selling off its wares in days prior, according to Mosher.
“First, we’d like to say that we are very saddened by the news that Local First Grocer Co-op is closed,” Mosher wrote in a Facebook post. “However, we are so honored to have the opportunity to partner with an amazing business, Anna’s Apothecary, and share the previous LFG space with them in Manitou Springs!”
Both Mosher and Papini said they plan to broaden their product offerings at that location. Mosher also plans to partner with The Cupcake Doctor to open a shared storefront on Austin Bluffs Parkway, near UCCS in north-central Colorado Springs.