From the Outreach Coordinator
We are not Alone: Together, We are Making this a Reality
Did you know that there are more than 125 new cooperative grocery stores starting up across the U.S.? Did you know that even more than that are already open and running? Throughout the nation, cities understand the value of this community-grown enterprise and are experiencing the countless benefits that come their way when co-ops form and become full-fledged businesses.
Recently, Wild Root Market (Racine, WI) hosted a “Dream UP” event, inviting Jacqueline Hannah from the Food Co-op Initiative to work with member-owners in planning their vision for their future store. This co-op has a site selected and are now eager to get underway with their bricks-and-mortar establishment. What do they want in their store? How do they want the store to be set-up? The voice of member-owners is crucial for the future of a co-op. This past month, our member-owners had the opportunity to fill out a survey to start this dreaming process, and we are grateful to those who gave us their opinions. Co-ops are vibrant places within communities BECAUSE their communities create them.
By now, you’ve heard about the Seven Cooperative Principles that are the foundation of cooperative businesses. Principle Six: Cooperation Among Cooperatives is an amazing concept. With co-ops beginning solely through the work of volunteers, time and resources are of the essence, so being able to reach out to other co-ops is key to our success. Many co-ops across the nation have provided us with ideas for campaigns, examples to assist us with our own policies and procedures, tours of their grocery stores, and feedback on many steps of our process as we continue moving forward.
Not only do we get assistance from other co-ops, but we also have other experts to help us along our way. The above-mentioned Food Co-op Initiative provides resources and services to start-up co-ops free of charge. We also enlist co-op consultants to work with us on specific needs including our financial pro-forma and our plan to hire a general manager. This past year, we joined Cooperative Grocer Network, a non-profit committed to networking and education among co-ops. Cooperative businesses are unique, and having these resources is key to our successful progress.
In addition, this month, several of us will travel to Milwaukee, WI for the Up & Coming Co-op Conference where we will not only connect with other start-up co-ops, but will have professional consultants available to answer questions and provide advice. Do you have questions you want us ask? If so, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to do so and let you know what we discovered.
And I’m very pleased to announce that we’ll be attending the Up & Coming conference partially funded by a grant we just received from combined funds from the Ralph K. Morris Foundation, the Howard Bowers Fund for Food Co-ops and the Food Co-op Initiative!
No, we are definitely not alone in this process. We join hundreds of thousands of people who are striving to bring community and good health together under the roof of cooperative grocery stores across the country. Now that’s powerful stuff!