Manitou grocer to open with help from friends

A band of healthy-food enthusiasts launched a campaign to kickstart a co-op in downtown Manitou Springs that will specialize in locally sourced Colorado groceries.

Local First Grocer will be located at 116 Canon Ave. — the 1,200-square-foot former home of the Trippin’ Troll — and is scheduled to start operations in March, said co-founder Elise Rothman in an email. The store’s creation was spurred by a resolution approved unanimously by Manitou Springs City Council on Oct. 22 that promotes, among other things, access to healthy food.

“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,” Rothman said.

Local First Grocer will be Manitou’s only full-line grocery store — the closest is now Safeway on the Springs’ Westside — and will specialize in products devoid of potentially harmful chemicals and pesticides, according to Rothman.

The Local First Grocer steering committee includes Rothman and co-founder Luke Cissell, as well as partners Lily Kempt and Harry Greene.

The committee has scheduled a “Kickstarter Kickoff” fundraising event at Adam’s Mountain Cafe for 6 p.m. Jan 12. It will also be involved as part of Manitou City Council’s working session at 7 p.m. Jan. 14, at City Hall.

“We are working hard to bring quality and accessible local food back onto the shelves and into the stomachs of our neighbors, family, and friends in the Manitou community,” the co-founders said in a news release Monday. “As a co-op, we pride ourselves on working with the community to reinvigorate [the] local food economy, promote food education, and increase the well-being of our customers (wallets included).”