Organizers of a community-owned, non-profit grocery store are hoping Hamiltonians can help them win a $25,000 national contest to outfit the new store.

Mustard Seed Co-op is one of the four Ontario finalists in the National Co-op Challenge, a social media contest created by The Co-operators. Two finalists in each of the four regions across Canada can take home $25,000.

Organizers say the prize money will help them buy refrigerators, equipment and inventories to outfit the store, which is scheduled to open before Christmas.

“$25,000 will be tremendous for opening the store,” Graham Cubitt, president of Mustard Seed, told CBC Hamilton Tuesday morning, shortly after he received the key to the future home of the grocery store at 460 York Blvd.

The Mustard Seed project started in Spring 2012, when organizers put out a survey asking Hamiltonians what they'd like to see in a new co-operative grocery store.

761 people have since joined the project, paying $100 each to become the founding members of the store.

Urban space to be showcased

Following months of search, organizers announced last month that they have found a home for Mustard Seed in a building at York Blvd and Inchbury Street.

Mustard Seed Co-op plans

Community-owned grocery store Mustard Seed Co-op, shown in this artistic rendering, is one of the contestants of a $25,000 national contest. Organizers say the contest prize will help them outfit the newly secured location in Hamilton. (Courtesy of Emma Cubitt)

An artistic rendering of the storefront released during the announcement shows a street-level building with rainbow-coloured banners, and the interior design is also in the works. Cubitt said shoppers can expect “urban space that has natural elements,” with features like contemporary colours and lighting.

“It will be a warm environment rather than a big boxed store,” he said,

Mustard Seed submitted a 90-second video to the national contest featuring founding members who shared what they look forward to when the co-operative opens.

The month-long contest ends on Friday. Cubitt said he hopes Hamiltonians can give Mustard Seed a last-minute boost by voting online.

“Any contest can change in the last few days and hours. We really want the Hamilton community and anybody to vote for us.”