Prairie Food Co-op Community Grocery

CIP Phase 1 Outcomes

We have analyzed the results of our Community Investment Program (CIP) and while there are some good outcomes, there are also challenges and big decisions to be made about our co-op’s future. It’s critical that Owners understand where we are in the process of opening our grocery store. Now, more than ever, our mission to support local farmers and food producers is crucial to keep local farms thriving and create a resilient local food system that will keep food on our shelves.

 

What Went Well

  • Owner Participation. On average, 20-25% of a food co-op’s Owners (like you!) will participate in the capital campaign. For Prairie Food Co-op, 30% of Owners participated in the first round alone!! That’s an amazing show of community support.
  • $1M Raised. Prior to 2021, two food co-ops have raised more than $1 million dollars during their first round of funding. We are now the THIRD! Raising over $1 million in just 9 weeks.
  • Volunteers Rock. 20 Owners stepped up to Call and an additional 8 helped with various Admin tasks. We are grateful to every Owner who stepped up to work on the CIP. Knowing how critical this was to opening our store motivated our volunteer team to make calls days, nights, and weekends, even though most of the team were nervous to call owners!  The team was encouraged by the wonderful experience of personally connecting with so many owners, learning more about the needs of our community and celebrating our campaign successes big and small as a team.

 

What Needs Work

  • Larger Contributions. Although our 30% participation was higher than average, the amount contributed by owners was lower than average for owners of other co-ops. The CIP team anticipated an average $5000 contribution; instead we received an average $2500 contribution. We also anticipated 10-15 contributions of $25,000 or more and only received 3. Large contributions are required to increase the average (that is to say, we rely on those with more capacity to invest at higher levels).
  • The Wealth Is Here. With DuPage County being the 2nd wealthiest county in Illinois, we are confident the wealth exists to fund our co-op. Co-ops have opened, fully funded, in less affluent communities with a few “large dollar” contributors (our friends at Oshkosh Food Co-op received a $100K donation among other large investments, despite locating in a low income neighborhood). 
  • Owner Participation. 30% of Owners did NOT respond to our outreach efforts. The CIP call team sent thousands of calls, text, and email during the CIP - a monumental effort by volunteers. We know Owners have questions about investing, and the purpose of these calls was to personally connect with each Owner to share information and help answer questions. We want to include all Owners in the opportunity to fund our store, and it was disappointing to not be able to connect with 30% of our Owner community despite our best efforts.

 

What’s Next

  • $2M still needed. We need to raise another $2 million to reach our $3.1M goal by December 15 or we lose our lease for 109 South Main. Based on data from other co-ops and outcomes from our CIP, we believe that we can raise an additional $1M from our Ownership. That leaves a $1M gap that needs to be filled through non-traditional funding sources. Our financial data informs that the co-op cannot service more than $1.5M in traditional bank financing. The CIP planning team is working hard to secure $1M in non-Owner, non-traditional funding such as low-interest loans, grants, foundations, incentives, and more. We definitely need more volunteers for this effort - Owners who have the time and energy to network about potential funding. If you can volunteer, please email [email protected].
  • Evaluating Owner/Community Support. Your PFC board will send an Owner survey in July to assess how much additional support (volunteer and funding) we might receive if we run a second CIP campaign. We need more volunteers and more funders to open our doors - as a cooperative business, that is how it’s done. We will assess the survey results and the outcome of our outreach in late Summer and make a decision of whether to move forward.
  • 109 South Main is our best bet for success. 109 South Main is the most profitable site our team has evaluated - there is simply no better option for our store. PFC received a phenomenal deal from Holladay Properties. It would be more expensive to locate elsewhere in Lombard because 1) 109 S Main has the highest sales potential, by far, of any site we have investigated and 2) the favorable terms in our lease agreement are not available at other locations. Our business requires both high sales potential and favorable lease terms for success (i.e. our store has to generate enough profit to service debt). This is a one in a million opportunity that checks every box for success 
    • Centrally located near downtown Lombard
    • Convenient for commuters and bikers being across from the Metra station and ½ mile both the Prairie Path and Great Western Trail
    • No grocery store within a 1 mile radius
    • Ample parking with room for a full sized semi to deliver products at all hours (a nearly insurmountable challenge locating in an older downtown area)
    • Built to our required size and specifications, saving money on buildout and expanding options for store planning
    • Outdoor patio/seating that provides opportunity for onsite events
    • And so much more!! 
  • We Need YOU! Hundreds of your friends and neighbors have worked tirelessly for 8 years to make our food co-op a reality. We will continue to do so but need to be transparent about the challenges ahead. 
    • Now is the time for our Owners to rally. 
    • To answer our call for more help and more contributions. 
    • *We* are the last stop - *We* make this happen! 

This store is OURS to fund and to open - and to take incredible pride in what we can accomplish together!

 

Questions?

We've got you covered! The Board will be available at the following times to answer any and all Owner questions. Registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

  1. Thursday, 6/24 7:30-8:00 pm - Register here
  2. Friday 6/25 4:30-5 pm - Register here
  3. Saturday 6/26 10-10:30 am - Register here
  4. Monday 6/28 4-4:30 pm - Register here
  5. Tuesday 6/29 12-12:30 pm - Register here



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