Prairie Food Co-op Community Grocery

The Journey To Opening Our Store


One of the topics most often brought up in conversations with PFC Owners and other community members is the location of our store, and the process behind this major milestone in our journey to opening.

Much has happened behind the scenes in the time leading up to the site search, during the search itself and upon identifying a location of interest. So we're taking this opportunity to share some insight into our progress so far, as well as update you on what's left to be done. We will be diving into detail on each of these steps over the next few newsletters, so make sure you're coming back for more! 

Recruited 1600+ Owners (and Growing!)

The first step that every food co-op must take in their pathway to opening a community-owned grocery store is to establish community support. Just over 10 years ago, this is what the PFC founders did by putting out the word on social media, attending local farmers markets, and holding an initial organizing meeting. This meeting, along with continued outreach, produced the first wave of support which resulted in a fully seated board, and early iterations of the Outreach and Finance committees, and resulted in over 100 PFC Owners in one month when we first offered Ownership shares. 

This "first wave" of PFC supporters recruited their friends and family, placed PFC yard signs that recruited still others, and spread the PFC word through word of mouth. The PFC Ownership and Outreach committee (the O&O) planned and partnered with others to host events to establish PFC in the community and meet even more likeminded individuals. Volunteers represented PFC at local farmer's markets and events hosted by organizations with similar values, and worked on keeping our connections updated via social media posts while growing our newsletter list.  Over time, we've found ourselves where we're at current day - nearing 1700 PFC Owners! 

Join Your Friends and Neighbors by Becoming a PFC Owner Today!
This strong community support has been vital in our past success and, like all other food co-ops, we will always be recruiting new Owners to insure OUR store represents ALL of our community into the future! 


Raised $3.2 Million from our Community

It's expensive to open a full-service grocery store in DuPage County, especially now with current construction and equipment costs, as well as significant delays and supply chain issues. To be sure that we have more than enough capital to open our store and sustain ourselves until profitability, our Community Investment Program (CIP) committee was tasked with calling on our Owners to further invest in their commitments to our store.

Our CIP call team spent thousands of hours reach out to PFC Owners and community organizations to raise enough capital to fund the securing of a site and the building of OUR store. Through various-levels of investment, we were able to secure over $3.2M towards this goal. We may not have hit our original goal, but we raised an impressive amount that will set us up for success at a store site that meets PFC's  criteria for success!

Identified Viable Sites Across Lombard & Surrounding Communities

We've received a lot of ideas from the community about sites we should consider for the future location of PFC (and we've talked about why some of these would or wouldn't work). There are a lot of prerequisites that a site must check off the list before we can seriously consider it for the permanent home of Prairie Food Co-op. Our Site Search committee and PFC Board have taken all of these and more into consideration while evaluating a number of sites in Lombard and the surrounding area.

To set PFC up for the maximum potential for success, PFC has commissioned over 5 market studies conducted by industry professionals to help access viability of a handful of potential sites. In addition, PFC volunteers and board members have attended hundreds of meetings working with area landlords, real estate agents, brokers, architects, attorneys, and industry consultants to identify viable sites for OUR community owned grocery store- including the very one we hope to be calling home! (Stay tuned for an exciting announcement!)




Completed Multiple Market Studies

When choosing a location for a full-service, community-owned grocery store, it was imperative to the Board and Site Search Committee that we choose a site that would best position us for sustained, long-term growth.

As we attracted more community buy-in through PFC Ownership, thus proving community support, our next step was to test markety viability. Over the last 4 years we have commissioned four separate market studies with multiple food co-op consulting firms that specialize in market viability studes. These studies identified Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Villa Park, Elmhurst and Downers Grove as our main market in addition to defining major criteria our store site must meet in order to insure the best chance of success:
  • located on or near major thoroughfares 
  • 6500 - 10,000 total square feet
  • easy ingress and egress
  • developed within the calculated costs per our financial pro forma
  • surrounded by plenty of parking
Armed with this information, we are better positioned to select a site that fits our needs now - and also allows us to grow and adapt to our community's needs in the future!

Completed Owner Site Selection Survey

Over this past summer we conducted a survey in which we asked our Owners a series of questions related to the future home of our store. 659 members participated and the responses and notes provided valuable feedback that helped focus our search efforts. While we know that a signifigant majority of PFC Owners live in Lombard, we wanted to evaluate the interest level of our Owners regarding other potential store sites in neighboring villages.

We also learned valuable information about our Owners' grocery shopping habits, and whether or not things like accessibility by bike are important when it comes to our store's location (it really wasn't!). 

From day one we have prided ourselves with not just our transparency, but our commitment to listening to our community of Owners. With those goals in mind, we took all of the input and feedback to heart and promise that it was put to good use!

Rewarded $807k Grant by State of IL 

At the end of August, we received news that we were awarded a $807,000 grant as part of the Rebuild Illinois (RBI) Downtowns and Main Streets Capital program. This grant is part of a larger initiative by Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), in which $106 million in capital grants was awarded to 50 commercial corridors across the state. Awardees of this grant are taking part in revitalizing and growing their local communities and downtown areas, and this is the state's way of recognizing those efforts. 

This grant was VERY competitive, so we were very honored to be selected! This grant money puts us in a much stronger position to move quickly on the site that meets our criteria for success. Due to the current state of the market, supply chain issues and overall inflation, every dollar of assistance we can procure will make a huge difference in our overall costs!

You can read more about the grant here.

To Be Continuted 

Check back in with us in a few weeks when we will talk about the last 4 remaining steps we need to take to open our storeand maybe be able to provide an update to our site announcement timeline!


Become a PFC Owner Today!


Regardless of whether or not you decide to become an Owner, everyone in our community is welcome to shop at our store when we're open. That being said, the success of Prairie Food Co-op relies on as many community members stepping up to become PFC Owners as is possible.

For a one-time $200 buy-in, you will receive certain perks and discounts while supporting as many local farmers, food producers, and small, family owned businesses as possible.

Yes, we will be a full service grocery store - but we will be so much more.! Our co-op will be a destination for our community to gather, and we hope you opt to join our nearly 1700 community members in PFC membership!


And if you're not on our newsletter list yet, sign up today! 







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