With a fresh coat of paint, expanded inventory and fully stocked shelves, Big Hollow Food Co-op officially opened in its new location, 112 S. Second St.

At noon Tuesday, the food store opened on the first floor of the new Empress building. The Big Hollow Food Co-op is a grocery store which specializes in local, organic food and is owned by customers, Marla Petersen, general manager, said. A co-op is owned by its membership, which has a 5 percent discount when shopping in the store, but customers do not need to be a member to shop there.

Petersen said they have been looking to expand for five years, and the move into the Empress started two-and-a-half years ago. The store partnered with the Laramie Main Street Alliance to obtain a grant to for the new building from the Wyoming Business Council. The Main Street Alliance owns the building while the store rents the first floor.

Big Hollow Food Co-op Operations Manager Jeff Hubbell said they source their food from several different producers locally, including High Horse Farms, ACRES Student Farm, Bright Agrotech and Sheila Bird Farms.

Hubbell said they have been at such a capacity for the past three years that when they wanted to bring in something new, they would have to cut something else. The new, bigger venue increased their capacity by about 20 percent, he said. Petersen said they have been able to increase all of their product lines, and especially their meat selection.

Tuesday was just the soft opening, and the store is planning on a grand opening sometime in September, Petersen said. The grand opening will involve several sales, giveaways and the opening of their mezzanine, Hubble said. The mezzanine will have seating and an expanded deli operation, Petersen said.

Petersen said the support of the staff, the community, the city and the Laramie Main Street Alliance was crucial in their expansion.

“We couldn’t have done it without Trey Sherwood from Laramie Main Street,” Hubbell said.

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