Did you know that 70% of food co-ops are still thriving after 5 years in business? Just 1 in 3 small businesses can say the same. So what’s the co-op secret? GROW, FUND, BUILD. It’s a 5-8-year startup process with proven results. And our national and regional partners – Food Co-op Initiative and Cooperative Development Services – guide us every step of the way.
We GROW our Ownership base – almost 1,000 eager, invested Owner shoppers – before we ever open our doors. We FUND with a capital campaign that supplements bank funds and ensures that we thrive on Day 1 and Day 1,000. And we BUILD a store located and sized to give us the best chance of success.
A capital campaign typically takes 4-9 months. According to our current projections, we will need to raise about $1.5 million. This is done through Owner loans and a preferred share sales (shares that operate like stock). Outside this $1.5 million, we will seek a traditional bank loan. All Owners, regardless of their participation in the capital campaign, have an equal voice in our store.
While this is no small effort, we are not alone. Food Co-op Initiative and Cooperative Development Services provide expert consultants to train co-op boards and volunteers in executing short, effective capital campaigns. They are excellent at what they do, and our Board and volunteers will be ready. The more capital we raise through our Owners and community, the less we need to rely on outside lenders. Investing in your very own grocery store is a pretty cool way to see your investment at work, right here in our community.
This stage varies in length based on our chosen site – purchase, lease, new build, renovation. Our market studies show that our region can support a 8,000-12,000 square-foot store, a sizable grocery store!
The Board is now actively looking at potential store locations in Lombard, which our market and feasibility studies determined is the ideal location. If no location is available in Lombard when we pass the 800-Owner threshold, the Board will bring it back to our Owners to determine whether we wait for a Lombard location or search neighboring suburbs. Lombard remains the target location. The Board will not sign on a site until after we pass our 800-Owner goal.