I’ve written numerous times before about the stages of development for start-up co-ops like ours. I’ve pointed out that we’re on the cusp of Stage 3—the final exciting stage where we begin working on the physical store itself. Of course we can’t begin Stage 3 until we have a site secured (more on that later), but that doesn’t mean we’re not busy. Here are some quick updates on what’s happening with the board:
Refining the Vision
One of the most exciting things the board is involved in right now is working on our vision, specifically refining the vision. This work goes beyond a vision statement, and it includes developing a set of key values. Chances are you’re surprised to hear that we don’t have values in place, and you’d be partly right! The values of the co-op world can in some ways be assumed: healthy choices, sustainable operations, etc. Each co-op around the country serves their member-owners in some basic ways, but also in ways very specific to their community. And this is where refining our values and vision comes in, making our Co-op one that serves the greater Cedar Valley and not just Anywhere, USA. A clearly stated vision, supported by key values, poises us to better demonstrate to potential members and investors why the Co-op is important in the Cedar Valley. These items will help guide the Co-op through a successful investment campaign all the way through our first decade of doing business!
Site Selection Update
The Co-op’s Operations Team is working diligently to identify and secure a possible site for the Co-op. Over the years we’ve had some promising leads, but to date nothing has worked out. Albeit disappointing, this is a common experience for food co-ops in this stage. To help with these efforts, our team has partnered with a local commercial realtor, and we’re excited to continue the search for the home for our grocery store. I have made the commitment to the board to provide Co-op members with regular monthly updates on this work, so stay tuned for more news and information.
Preparing for Stage 3
The Co-op board has been hard at work getting things ready for Stage 3. Having all of our ducks in a row once we sign a lease on a site and start Stage 3 means we’ll be more successful in opening the doors. The Investment Team is finalizing documents for the upcoming campaign. The Membership and Communications Teams are doing some amazing work in growing the membership numbers (nearing 1,000!), but also growing our supporter base and awareness in the community. And our Finance Team has been working on steps to ensure we’re good to go with lining up the traditional financing we’ll need.
Did you know we’re learning from the best?! Every month, our board participates in at least two peer calls created around relevant startup topics, specific to co-op launches and attended by co-ops in the same stage as us across the country, from cities and towns of all sizes, with presentations and contributions made by successful co-ops with years of open doors. This kind of peer learning and contribution help us all and provides a much needed resource. Really rich information… and so very co-operative!
In addition to the work already mentioned, the board and committees are working on a number of other projects necessary for our successful launch. Work includes revisiting and refining our financial pro forma based on recent trends within the industry, examining possible point-of-sale systems to see how they might integrate with current data tracking, reviewing materials on store design, refining the business plan, and revisiting the bylaws. All of this is crucial for our Co-op, even if it doesn’t always make for exciting blog material!
On a related note, the board has accepted the resignation of board member Trevor Hendrickson. Trevor cited the need to have more time for his work and family as reasons for stepping down. We are grateful to Trevor for his service to the Co-op during his time on the board. In accordance with the bylaws, the board will appoint a new board member to serve the remainder of his term.
Do you have any questions about our work? Curious about what’s coming up? Do you have ideas for us? Or are you interested in joining with the growing number of volunteers who are pitching in to see the idea become reality? If so, contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your idea, question, or suggestion.