Big Hollow Food Co-op could open its new location, 112 S. Second St., as soon as July, and with more space, assistant manager Jeff Hubbell said the natural grocer plans to offer Laramie more selection.
“We haven’t solidified all the details, but I’m looking at increasing our bulk section, bringing in more produce and offering more deli grab-and-go options,” Hubbell said.
Constructed in the vacant lot where the Fox Theater once stood, he said the new building is nearly complete, and moving in isn’t slated to interrupt the store’s operating hours.
“Our goal is to close this location in the evening, and open that location the next morning — hopefully it will be fairly seamless,” Hubbell said. “There’s a short period where some of our refrigerated items will be in shorter supply, because we’ll be moving things over, but we’ll still have plenty to offer.”
Funded primarily through a $3 million Business Ready Community grant from the Wyoming Business Council, the multi-leveled building is owned by the Laramie Main Street Alliance, which preleased the main floor and mezzanine to Big Hollow before beginning construction in 2017.
“The new building is about 4,500 square feet on the main floor and about 2,000 square feet on the mezzanine,” Hubbell said. “We currently have about 3,000 square feet, so it is doubling our overall space and more than doubling our space for retail.”
In addition to more space, he said the new location shares the same parking lot as the store’s current location, making the transition for customers easier.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the community, and the company we contracted with — GH Phipps — has been stellar,” Hubbell said of the construction process.
By meeting weekly with the contractor and architect, Hubbell said Big Hollow has been able to clear several hurdles during the building phase.
“One challenge for us, because of the limited square footage outside the building, there wasn’t space to put our compressor for the refrigeration unit,” Hubbell said. “So, we talked with the architect and contractor and worked out putting it on the roof.”
The University of Wyoming College of Business also stepped up to help with the transition by dedicating half a business logistics class to researching logistics for the move, he added.
“Our various food reps offered to come up and help us re-merchandise and reset the store,” Hubbell said. “The whole process has been great, and the city of Laramie and Main Street have been fabulous to work with.”
Once moved, Big Hollow’s old location could go onto the market, but Hubbell said he was unclear on the details.
“There’s been a lot of interest in our old building,” he said. “But I don’t know if there is a plan set in place.”
In addition to celebrating the reopening with sales and specials, he said Big Hollow would be showing off a new look.
“We’re rolling out a rebranding of the co-op when we open the new store,” Hubbell said. “We’ve been working on ideas for a few months, and we’ll unveil that when we reopen.”