When other stores are struggling and closing during tough economic times, the Isla Vista Food Co-Op has found its customers have quite the appetite for healthy, organic, and local products.A fundraising drive to save the store from possibly closing has brought in $200,000 towards the down payment on a loan to purchase the property on Seville Road.The land owner put it up for sale last year, and that sprouted the plan to gain customer support and donations. ” We figured ripples can make waves and so we would start with a little bit and it would end up to be a lot,” said General Manager Melissa Cohen about the fundraising.Cohen says customers range from UC Santa Barbara students and staff, to co-op shoppers that travel many miles for this specific store. “They need to have access to healthy food,” she said.With the new loan and the entire operation now owned by the co-op, “our mortgage is about the same as our rent. We’re very blessed in how everything worked out,” said Cohen.One shopper, Kate Vachon, said the items she sees in the store are much different than other locations where she shops. Pointing to the bulk foods, “I’ve never seen any of these three anywhere else besides here,” she said. “I want to be healthy and when I come here, I don’t feel guilty.”Channel 3 KEY News Senior Reporter John Palminteri has our story.
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