It’s hard to escape all the pundits and opinion writers putting together their predictions for 2019. Cars, politics, science, tech – all fair game for prognosticating. (Here is an assortment of food predictions, in case you’re interested.) So, despite repeated reminders that predictions are mostly exercises in futility, I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen with your Cedar Falls Food Co-op in 2019.
Reaching 1,000 members is a significant milestone for a number of reasons. One is that it demonstrates a significant community interest in the project, which helps us secure a bank loan or loans. It helps us tell the greater Cedar Valley that “we’ve arrived,” and we’re a force to be reckoned with. At our present rate of growth, I expect we’ll reach 1,000 members by the end of April.
A Site is Selected
There’s a long list of things that need to happen in order to open a full-service grocery store from scratch. From the bylaws to the website to insurance to having preliminary conversations with potential lenders –your Co-op has been diligently checking these items off as we work steadily towards the end goal. And now that Stage 2 of this work is nearly complete, we’re poised to be able to sign a lease on a potential space. Now granted, we’ve been looking since nearly the beginning of this effort. (I remember touring a building in February of 2013, a full 19 months before we incorporated!) And the site tours and analyses are important as we work to refine our financial pro forma and gauge what we could afford. But it’s not been until the last quarter or so that we’re actually ready to sign a lease. But now we are. I predict a site announcement by this summer.
We Raise $1.1 Million
Once we sign on the dotted line for a lease, we must quickly pivot to raising the necessary funds. Nearly half of the money we’ll raise will come from investments from our members. These may take one of a few forms, but they will be investments above and beyond the membership share. As we noted in a letter to all members earlier in 2018, the Member Investment Committee has been hard at work getting ready to launch a campaign to “raise a substantial amount of the start-up funds needed to establish a physical store.” I predict reaching this goal by October 31.
General Manager Hired
We’ve come a long way as a group of volunteers (and one part-time contractor). But time will come for us to pass the day-to-day work we’ve been doing (roughly 3,500 collective volunteer hours each year) to a staff, and the first step in that process is to hire a general manager. Our Operations Team has been hard at work creating plans to market this critical position and conduct interviews when we have candidates. We’ll start marketing this about the time we begin lease negotiations, so I’m predicting we’ll have our new GM around early fall.
So that’s what my crystal ball tells me. But the reality is that these aren’t whimsical guesses. These predictions are based on many years of hard work. And the end of this work is coming soon. As you might guess, I’m pretty excited about what’s to come in 2019.