Did you hear that we just hit our 800 Owner Milestone? Do you know what that means? We think that it’s important to provide a quick primer of past, present, and future milestones that we need to meet as we transition from our GROW stage to our FUND and BUILD stages.
WHERE HAVE WE BEEN?
To get where we are today, we’ve had to hit other, earlier milestones to assure community support and propel us further along our road. These include:
100 Owners - Community Excitement
Our first milestone was more of a test of community support than a goal that triggered an action. Every food co-op wants to reach 100 Owners in a short amount of time to reflect community buy-in. We were thrilled when we reached 100 Owners in 3 weeks!
250 Owners - First Market Study
We promised to fund a market study when we reached this milestone in 2015, and we held to our word. We picked three potential store sites and paid a co-op consulting firm to evaluate the market, profitability and feasibility for each site. Our market study also told us that we should aim to open a store around 10,000 square feet. We had to keep these locations confidential, but we did want to evaluate if the Mr. Z’s site could work for us. At approximately 25,000 square feet, a price that is out of our budget, and a high cost of renovation, the Mr. Z’s site was completely untenable.
600 Owners - Design Survey
Originally, we had planned to be in a position to secure a store site at this number, but due to rising construction costs and changes in the grocery store market, we raised that number from 600 to 800. At 600 Owners we conducted a design survey where we polled our Owners on what type of exterior they'd like our store to look like.
700 Owners - Second Market Study
As any responsible food co-op should, we updated our market study to reflect changing market conditions that had occurred since our previous market study. Numerous grocery stores had closed and opened in this time. In this market study, we chose two new sites and included the one site that had been recommended in the previous market study.
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
800 Owners - Secure Store Location
800 Owners is where we stated we’d commit to securing a site. We have delivered on that promise by pursuing the strongest performing store site our market study indicated. We have partnered with a developer on a bid to be the retail anchor for a multipurpose development at 101 S. Main St. in Lombard. Please check out our website and see what you can do to help us persuade the village leadership that we’re the best choice for this location.
WHERE ARE WE GOING?
This is the part where everything starts getting real and getting fast. We had a bump in Ownership that propelled us past 800 Owners out of excitement for the site we’re pursuing, but expect to attract Owners at an even faster rate as we move closer to BUILDing our store.
900-1000 Owners - Capital Campaign
This is where the FUND stage happens, but this and all later stages are much quicker than the beginning stages. This is where we raise the majority of the capital we will need to open from a combination of loans from our Owners and bank loans. We will have to raise at least 3 million dollars (this will have to be fine-tuned), which sounds intimidating, but there are scores of food co-op that have opened before us who have had to raise similar amounts of money. We are already doing our research and getting prepared for this stage.
This is also the stage where our number of Owners isn’t as correlated with our store progress like in earlier stages. At this point our progress is measured by how quickly we can raise the capital it will take to BUILD our store.
1200+ Owners - Hire GM, Begin Construction
We will want to hire our General Manager at least 9 months to a year out from opening. This will involve a nationwide search where we will seek out the most qualified candidate possible. This is one of the most important decisions a co-op will make, and we intend on getting it right!
We estimate that we will be at least north of 1200 Owners by the time we begin construction. This step can only begin once we secure all of the capital it will take to open our store. Once construction begins, we expect a huge Ownership surge as fence sitters see that we are serious and actually implementing our plan.
1400+ Owners - Open OUR Food Co-op!
Once again, an estimate, but we’re seeing most food co-ops above 1400 Owners when they open their doors. This is pretty self explanatory. This is THE goal that we’ve all been working towards for years. This is where we have our employees in place, our shelves and coolers stocked, and our door OPEN! Ironically this will be cause for the single biggest Owner surge we’ll experience. .
1600+ Owners - Shop the Co-op!
While our biggest goal will have been achieved by this point, we will ALWAYS need to be recruiting Owners to insure our success and support from our community. We will have to compete in a very competitive market and ever-changing grocery landscape. We are not assured success, but we can assure you we intend to be successful and stay open.
This is why it’s important that our community shop at OUR store. Everyone will be able to shop at our store, but our Owners especially need to support us when we’re open. There will be bumps in the road, but we will strive to build and run the store that our community wants. If our community supports us, anything is possible.
OUR USUAL ASK
If you’re not an Owner of Prairie Food Co-op please consider becoming a PFC Owner today. If you’re already an Owner, please tell that friend, neighbor, or family member about us. We really are right at the point that this starts to get really fast, but we still need many more in our community to step up and support us.
Also, please stay informed and involved by continuing to read our newsletters, like us on facebook, and come to our events! THIS is the time to jump in and get involved. We're doing this!