Rainbow Co-op is looking for a fresh start.

The consumer cooperative grocery, owned and operated by its members since May 1980, announced their intentions to shutter their Fondren storefront in favor of a different, undisclosed Jackson location. The store closed July 26, 2018.

“We have a signed sales contract for this (Fondren) building at a price that will enable us to move to different quarters and more than adequately stock the new location,” an email from Rainbow Community Outreach Director Patrick Jerome said. “If all goes as we anticipate, we will close the sale around the 1st of October.”

Jerome said that the store had hoped filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection would allow them to stay open in the interim, but “that plan is not going to work.”

Instead, the store is offering 25 percent off remaining merchandise. Rainbow’s internal restaurant, High Noon Café, served its final meal on July 6.

“We will not restock the shelves,” the emailed statement said. “The last trucks have come in.”

Jerome indicated to Find It In Fondren that the store will close “when the store is out of product,” aiming for the end of July, but possibly the middle of August.

Following closing, Rainbow plans to continue to offer classes and workshops in their Fondren space, as well as hosting a series of community meetings to hear from their shoppers, past and future.

“We are planning several community meetings and compiling the various bits of public input we’ve received over the years,” Jerome explained. “A store that does what Rainbow did in 2009 is not a store that will stay in business in 2019. Finding out what people want from the new coop is vital. (We want to) make sure that the business we build is something that lasts another 40 years.”

Rainbow has cited numerous issues for their current predicament, including multiple floods and the associated costs for cleanup, lack of available parking and an increase in the availability of organic merchandise in the area. The opening of Whole Foods Market and the expansion of Kroger’s organic offerings were noted.

Update: following a July 17 Rainbow board meeting, Jerome stated: “The main takeaway was that the community does want a new cooperative, something that focuses on local products, herbs and supplements, and bulk natural products. We are going to be holding a series of community listening sessions and forums between now and the reopening to get a better feel for what our shoppers, shareholders, and people in the community would most support. If people would like to be part of the community listening sessions, they should email to sign up for that process. Final answers about relocation and value SHOULD be coming in late October. We are rescheduling our annual meeting until after that point. We cannot buy back stocks at this time according to the terms of our bankruptcy.”

Fair Trade Green Relocating

Fondren’s favorite shop for fair trade merchandise, promoting economic justice, spiritual fulfillment and environmental sustainability will also relocate, sooner, and here in Fondren.

Fair Trade Green, founded by Luke and Charlotte Lundemo in November of 2009, hopes to sign a lease this week signed a lease on their new home. That location, not far from their current one, will not be made available until the lease is final is at 3417 North State Street.

Manager Leslie Puckett issued this statement to Find It In Fondren:

“We at Fair Trade Green are sad to see Rainbow close. We would like to let everyone know that Fair Trade Green is currently open and will be relocating in the next few weeks to a new location in Fondren. We have enjoyed our time at the Rainbow Plaza, but we too feel it is time to move on. We hope to be closing on the new lease space (this) week. We will continue to carry our regular stock, and we will be picking up some of the vendors that currently serve Rainbow. Our new location will have off-street, private parking, as well as space for workshops and other events. We hope all our loyal customers will follow us to the new space. Stop by the store for details and watch our facebook page for upcoming announcements.”

Fair Trade Green is a separate business from Rainbow Coop that has been member-owned under a separate LLC since fall of 2017.