In late May, the board sent a letter to every member of the Co-op family that announced the Co-op is changing its name. If you haven’t seen that letter or read the Frequently Asked Questions about the name change, please be sure to take a look.
And if you have an idea for a new name, please submit it via our online survey. You can submit as many ideas as you like!
Before sharing with you some of the opinions from our members about the name change, I wanted to share with you one of my personal reflections on this.
From when we began back in 2012, through incorporation in 2014, and into our first year or so in leading this effort, the leadership of the Co-op was very set on one big goal: to open a full-service grocery store in or near downtown Cedar Falls. In 2015 we hired a company to conduct a market analysis, and it concluded that our plan was viable. “All systems go!” we said at the time, and so we continued our work towards that singular goal.
Then in 2018 and into early 2019, the board took a step back to review and update our vision. With new leadership, new ideas, and more engagement in learning about our work through national consultants, the board—correctly—began looking further into the future. “Sure, opening a grocery store that is committed to the local economy is good, but what happens after that?” the board asked. Then, the vision began expanding!
Now we were talking about opening a grocery store and then later a satellite location, or possibly a delivery service, or even a food truck. We started imagining if the Cedar Valley took cues from other cities with Co-ops that are now opening second and third locations, like River Valley Co-op in Northampton, MA, which is now raising funds to open a second location, just 11 years after opening their first store!
It was exciting conversations like this, combined with refining our value statements, in particular about inclusivity, that the board said, “we need a better name.” And while I firmly believe the original name – the Cedar Falls Food Co-op – is a good name, I think our new name will be even better. But don’t just take my word for it…
Brenna Griffin, a Co-op owner and former board member who lives and works in Cedar Falls, is supportive of the decision. “I love it and think it’s a great pathway forward to engage with more of our community,” she said.
Jim Wedeking is a familiar face to Cedar Falls Farmers Market goers. He’s the co-owner of Timber Ridge Bison, which is located just outside of Waverly. Wedeking produces and sells naturally-grown bison meat, and is considered a potential supplier for the Co-op once the doors open. Wedeking is also a member of the Co-op. He agreed that having a name that encompasses the region will be more appealing to potential shoppers and members. “I am 100% behind the board’s decision to change the name,” he said.
Ann Eastman, owner of Miss Wonderful in downtown Cedar Falls applauded the change calling it “very smart.” “Any time we can be inclusive, we all win,” she said. “I love that we’re changing it.”
We hope you do, too!
The Site Search Continues
Our site selection team continues to fan out in search of an ideal location for our (first) site. While we don’t have any news to report at this time, I can say that we are approaching a number of property owners. We’ve also begun a conversation with a potential developer that could expand our options to look beyond sites with existing structures to see if there might be suitable locations for a new build. This could be a great solution for your Co-op.
Lastly, at the board meeting in late May, the board made a deep commitment to the site selection process for this summer. We have made some internal decisions to see if we can lock down a site by the beginning of the fall. Of course, we promise to continue to update you as best we can during this search.
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.