It’s been years in the making and our hard work has finally paid off. We are thrilled to announce our store’s official location - 837 S Westmore-Meyers Rd in Lombard located in the Eastgate Shopping Center just west of Ace Hardware!! We have searched extensively for the perfect location for Prairie Food Co-op and we can honestly state that there is no better site for our store in Lombard.
Why we are excited about this location:
- It is located on a main thoroughfare in Lombard. Easy to get to, but without the frustration of too much traffic.
- It has an enormous parking lot! This not only means that you’ll never have to search for a spot when you come to shop, but it also means we can host a variety of outdoor events right at the store.
- It has multiple points of entry that help the flow of customers entering and exiting the store which is a very important aspect of a successful grocery store.
- We are “bumping out” the outdoor space in front of our store and will have a sizable outdoor patio where you’ll be able to grab a coffee or a bite to eat from the store and relax outside. Plus, our next-door neighbor, Ace Hardware, is building out a beautiful garden center - which will be lovely to look at from our patio.
- We will also be able to incorporate more of the sustainable and aesthetic details we had originally planned for. (This was not true for other site options.)
- The whole shopping center is getting renovated and updated and Prairie Food Co-op will be a significant part of the rejuvenation of this once-bustling mall.
- We’ve already talked to the GM and employees of Ace Hardware (the world's largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative) next door and feel we’re going to make great neighbors. We envision co-sponsoring events, workshops, and more. There is so much possibility!
- We can start delivering on our mission to provide a marketplace for more locally, sustainably produced food!
Not only will it be a bright, beautiful store that you’ll enjoy shopping at, but it has sustainable features that will help reduce our carbon footprint. These features include:
- Using vestibules to minimize air loss when the doors open which can prevent substantial amounts of heat or cool air from escaping the building when entering and exiting. This will prevent energy-consuming drafts and will make the store more energy-efficient.
- Replacing the mechanical and electrical systems with modern, energy-efficient systems that comply with the State's energy code.
- Giving new life to an existing building and re-using what makes sense (masonry, ductwork, etc.)
- Insulating all of the existing exterior walls and roof for better energy efficiency.
- Using LED bulbs in all light fixtures.
- Using occupancy sensors in offices and restrooms (lights will only go on when the sensor senses someone in the room)
- Using Low VOC paint and materials to the greatest extent possible.
- Utilizing refurbished equipment for approximately half of the food service equipment.
- Building out a new storefront and glazing system that complies with the State's energy code.
- Providing a designated area for composting.
Eastgate Shopping Center’s Makeover
The developers of Eastgate Shopping Center have already begun work on improving the overall experience of the complex. If you’ve driven by recently, you can see they are hard at work demoing and reconfiguring the space. The whole mall is bustling with activity in preparation for its makeover. They will also be repaving the entire parking lot and improving the overall design of the exterior.
The Illinois Secretary of State office (DMV) will be staying in the complex but moving to the north side of the mall and will be our neighbor to the west. We see this as a positive as it will bring “built-in” customers who want to grab a coffee or lunch before or after visiting the DMV. Eventually, the developers will be building an apartment complex on the South side of the shopping center (where the DMV is currently). This will bring even more customers to our store, making us even more of a success!
When is a grocery store more than a grocery store?
When it exists to serve you instead of making a profit for others. When it provides fresh and truly local products. When you and your neighbors own it.
We are building a community-owned grocery store coming in Lombard that will focus on selling as much locally and sustainably produced food as possible and keeping more money here in OUR community.
Thanks to Molly Palmer Masood of East End Food Co-op for this amazing infographic!
Cooperative businesses and their boards are governed by bylaws and policies. These structures keep the business, its employees, and its volunteer board accountable to Owners and to the Seven Cooperative Principles on which we’re founded.
To read Prairie Food Co-op's Bylaws, which detail our purpose, principles, structure, and the rights and responsibilities of Owners and Board Directors, please click here.
To read Prairie Food Co-op's Policy Register, which connects our Cooperative Principles to governance at all levels – staff, management, Board, and Owners – please click here.
Prairie Food Co-op is committed to following the seven core principles that cooperative businesses around the world operate by. Co-op Principle #7 is Concern For Our Community.
We are excited to not only grow as a co-op by bringing in new Owners, but for the next few months, we will choose an organization to donate $10 to for every new Owner we welcome.
If you have an organization you'd like to nominate to be a PFC Own Up, Give Back Candidate please click on the button below!
Past Give Back Organization(s):
The Gardenworks Project
For each new PFC Owner in October, Prairie Food Co-op will donate $10 to the Gardenworks Project. The mission of The GardenWorks Project is to promote organic suburban agriculture to improve the well-being of our community, the environment, and those facing food insecurity. They empower, educate, and support all food growers in their efforts to nourish their families and neighbors in need.
The Conservation Foundation
For each new PFC Owner in March/April/May, Prairie Food Co-op will donate $10 to the Conservation Foundation. The Conservation Foundation improves the health of our communities by preserving and restoring natural areas and open space, protecting rivers and watersheds, and promoting stewardship of our environment.
DuPage County Farm Bureau Agriculture in the Classroom
For each new PFC Owner in February, Prairie Food Co-op will donate $10 to the DuPage County Farm Bureau Agriculture in the Classroom Program. Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) is a statewide educational program. Its goal is to help students and teachers gain awareness of agriculture in their daily lives. By having agricultural educators come into classrooms, students learn about the industry and take part in hands-on activities that will enrich their lessons.
As a Co-op, investments from our Community are required to raise the capital necessary to build our grocery store. This is a basic tenant of Cooperative business and what makes Co-ops economic powerhouses and long-lived businesses (Co-ops following best practices to open, as we are, have a 90% success rate after 10 years - a phenomenal success rate for small business).
As the first co-op in DuPage County, Prairie Food Co-op will support local farmers and producers and make delicious, healthy, sustainable food accessible to all. Our store will be your convenient one-stop-shop for fresh, local and organic produce, dairy and meats, fair-trade and conventional foods, bulk items, wine & beer, and grab & go prepared foods.
Funding Pledged and Raised
Prairie Food Co-op needs approximately $4.4M to build, staff, and operate our store. The CIP Committee has run two intensive 8-week funding campaigns asking Owners to invest or donate in the store. 30% of PFC Owners contributed an average of $2000. While 30% participation is higher than average, the average contribution of $2000 is lower than the typical average of $4000-$5000 for Co-ops that have run funding campaigns in recent years. Here is the outcome of our two capital campaigns:
- $1.6M Pledged. PFC Owners have pledged $1.6M to this project. We have collected all but $300K of this pledged amount and are relying on Owners to come thru with their pledge to contribute .
- $1.2M Bank Loan. West Suburban Bank has committed to funding a portion of our project because they believe in PFC and the benefits it will bring to Lombard and DuPage County. This loan is contingent on PFC raising additional funds from Owners.
- $400K - $1M Grant Our Grants team has applied for over $2M in grant funding over the past 5 years. There are not many grant opportunities for cooperatives and they are very competitive. Our grant applications are up against well-financed corporations, universities, and farm bureaus. Despite that, we have been finalists for several large grants but have not received any significant grant funding. But we want Owners to know that the Board is working diligently to pursue all possible funding opportunities.
The Board is currently pursuing several viable store locations in Lombard. We cannot move forward unless we have the funding necessary to open our store. Depending on negotiated rent rates and other parameters, the Board projects a $300K-$500K funding gap that will need to be filled.
Ready to Invest? That’s great! Schedule a call with a Co-Operator to start the process!
$4.4 Million Dollar Funding Goal
Our market analysis indicates that $4.4 million is needed to construct and operate a 10K square foot grocery store. We can reduce that amount by looking at smaller spaces, but there is a minimum store size beneath which would be challenging to operate a profitable grocery store. Here is how funds will be used.
Use of Funds
- 50% Construction and Equipment. With Covid related supply chain issues, construction and equipment costs have increased nearly 50%. These increases are not expected to come down anytime soon.
25% Working Capital. Working capital is required by lenders and best-practice to cover losses during the first few years of operation while the store builds efficiencies and attracts new customers. It takes several years for most small businesses to turn a profit.
- 25% Staff and Misc. The remaining funds will be used to pay staff, fill our shelves with all the products we are excited about, provide services, and more.
How Can YOU Help?
We have made it easy for you to contribute.
Want to learn more? Review your contribution options below, and then Schedule a call with a Co-Operator to ask any questions and start the process!
Not yet an Owner?
Join Today, Impact Tomorrow
Professional market studies show that 109 S. Main in Lombard is the ideal location for a thriving co-op and that we can generate earnings to buy back preferred share and loan investments. However, investments are not without risk, including the risk of loss.
This is not an offer to sell securities which is made only by the Confidential Offering Memorandum and only members who are IL residents are eligible to invest in Owner Loans and only IL residents are eligible to invest in Preferred Shares
We know that investing in anything is a big decision and that you probably have a lot of questions. We've listed out a few of the most commonly asked questions about the Community Investment Program below. If your question isn't listed, feel free to reach out to one of our CIP Volunteers at [email protected] or 630-446-0010.
Why ask our Community to Invest?
It’s how Co-ops build the capital they need to be successful. Community investment demonstrates the existence of a loyal customer base, which:
- increases our chances for success
- generates funding that is less costly and more flexible than banks can offer
- gives commercial lenders confidence that Prairie Food Co-op is viable and desirable so they can offer PFC additional financing if needed
What’s in it for investors like me?
You have the opportunity to earn a respectable return and gain the satisfaction of knowing your money will:
- be invested locally
- increase the quality of life for our entire community
- support a venture that aligns with your values
- be THE KEY to our store opening its doors!
Our Community Investment Program offers a unique opportunity that is not tied to the volatility of the overall stock market. It very literally moves money from Wall Street to Main Street, where it can make tangible things happen within our community. This is an opportunity to invest in an organization whose values you fully understand and actually have a say in.
Can I help in ways that aren’t financial?
Of course! There are many non-financial ways to participate and get us closer to store open! Starting now, you could...
- Ask 15 friends to join you in ownership = a $3k value
Share your time & expertise = priceless. We are looking for the following skills:
- Marketing / Graphic Design
- Sales / Connectors / Callers
- Financial / Legal Paperwork / Closers
- Master of gratitude and celebrations
- Grant writers
Is PFC Seeking Traditional Bank Financing?
Yes, PFC has a $1.2M traditional bank loan in underwriting from West Suburban Bank in partnership with LEAF.
What about my Ownership Shares?
As a PFC owner, you bought two Ownership Shares for $200 total. These shares are tied to voting rights within our democratic organization, One Owner = One Vote. Ownership shares funded our outreach and start-up efforts but represent a small fraction of the capital needed.
What if the Co-Op doesn’t open? Will I get my money back?
Prairie Food Co-op will hold all funds invested in Shares and Loans in escrow until we have raised a minimum of $2.5 million in Owner contributions. At that time, the board will re-assess feasibility, as we have done at every major step of our development process. If the board determines that the project is no longer feasible and will not proceed, investments will be returned. Once escrow is broken, if the co-op does not open or closes after opening, investments are unlikely to be returned and subject to legal requirements with all contributors.
Charitable donations cannot be returned. Donations made to our fiscal agent on our behalf cannot be returned once made. If the board determines the project is no longer feasible, our fiscal agent will use the donated funds to support the wise use of cooperative approaches through education and development.
What are Preferred Shares?
Preferred Shares are stock that could yield annual dividends. Any Illinois resident can participate and buy up to 10 total PFC shares at $1,000 per share. Outside of donations, Preferred Shares are the most co-op friendly way to invest in PFC and should be considered a long-term investment (15+ years). They can yield annual dividends but like most stock, no promises.
What are Owner Loans?
Only Illinois PFC Owners are eligible to make a loan to Prairie Food Co-op with a legal agreement on interest rates and pay-off schedules. This is a mid-term investment of 15 years for investments ranging from $10,000 - $600,000. Money is eventually paid back and you earn interest on your loan. But like most loans, there are risks.
How do Grants & Donations factor in?
We will work with institutional funders, local foundations, community programs, philanthropists, and individuals like yourself to fund as much of the project as possible. For some folks and all those outside Illinois, a tax-deductible donation with no minimums or maximums is the most win-win way to contribute.
Is there a deadline to raise the funds needed to build our store?
Yes, we need to raise all $4.4M by December 15, 2021, in order to fulfill our lease agreement with the developer of our site. If we do not make that deadline, we will lose the site.
When can I invest in PFC?
The Community Investment Program kicked off January 2021. PFC Owners have contributed $1.1 M towards this $4.4 M project. Coupled with our $1.2M bank loan, we are halfway to our goal. We need to raise the remaining $2.2 M by December 15, 2021 to keep the lease for our site at 109 South Main.
If you already know you would like to contribute, reach out to us at [email protected] and we will put you at the top of our contact list once our legal paperwork is finalized and full program details are approved by our board.
More questions? Please contact us at [email protected].
We are not soliciting Owner capital in any form at this time. Owner loans will be available only to Illinois Owners, Preferred Shares will only be available to Illinois residents, and only pursuant to complete offering documents when and if a capital campaign is approved by the board.
Check out this inspiring report on the impacts that food co-ops have on their community.
A few highlights:
- What is a food co-op? (we hope you know but just in case....) A food co-op is a grocery store owned by your neighbors (and by you, if you choose). Unlike corporate chains, co-ops are totally independent and owned by folks in the community that shop there.
- Local Control. Co-ops are owned by their communities, not some corporate office 1,000 miles away. Instead of focusing on Wall Street investors, co-ops focus on what their neighbors want—nourishing everyone according to their budget and cooking style.
- Community-focused. In 2019, co-ops donated $8 million to community organizations. In addition, co-ops work with their communities in ways that reflect each community’s unique needs. For example, many co-ops offer community dinner nights where healthy meals are under $5,
- Sustainability - Food co-ops are working individually to reduce their carbon footprints and respond to the climate crisis by measuring and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions from electricity, fuel use, and refrigerant gases.
Beth Peluse donated 2015-12-27 18:29:24 -0600