The month of October was National Co-op Month. Cooperative enterprises, including the Kitsap Community Food Co-op, celebrated the benefits and value that co-ops bring to their members and communities. We also launched a “31 Members in 31 Days” campaign and I’m very happy to say it was a huge success! Volunteers committed a day to recruiting a new member-owner for the co-op and we’ve surpassed our goal. So I want to offer a heartfelt “Thank You” to all of you that contributed your time and energy to this campaign.
This is what makes a cooperatively owned businesses different… the community comes together to reach its goals.
So what’s next?
You may recall from my post at the beginning of the campaign, one of the objectives of “31 in 31” was to recruit enough new member-owners to pay for the next important element in our business planning… a fiscal pro forma. This set of financial statements will give us specific information regarding projected earnings and costs for the store over the next ten years. This helps the board make important decisions prior to opening the store.
During the October 27th meeting, the board of directors approved the expense of contracting with CDS Consulting to begin the pro forma work. We will be gathering the information needed and meeting with the consultant early this month.
What else is next?
At our annual meeting on October 26th, member-owners were introduced to our newly elected board members: Cary Bozeman, Tiffany Royal, Kristina Kruzan, Marcus Collier and Ian Logan. The standing board members, Kevin Koski, Allyson Rosemore, Bristol Parsons and myself, can’t tell you how excited we are to have this group of energetic and thought-filled people joining the team.
We’ve already hit the ground running. On November 3rd we held a study session to focus on setting goals for the coming months. As was mentioned at the annual meeting, we are setting goals that target three areas:
Member Growth and Engagement: We will continue to work to grow our membership numbers. This is important in a couple of ways. First, more member-owners provides the equity necessary to continue business planning and development. Secondly, as we move to raise the capital to open the store, more member-owners provides a larger member loan base and access to financing.
Additionally, you will see more efforts to engage existing member-owners, providing you with more ways to participate in planning and development activities, more opportunities to share your voice, and ways to learn more about the cooperative business you own.
Raising Capital: The building of a store is a costly venture. Gone are the days of starting a food co-op out of a garage and incrementally growing over many years. Based upon our market research and the experience of recently launched food co-ops, we are seeking to build out a full service, 8,000sf+ grocery store that will serve your everyday shopping needs. This costs a great deal of money. Our current estimates exceed $2.4 million to open the store. This includes costs for building out a site, hiring staff, stocking initial inventory, and covering anticipated losses early on.
In the coming months we will be laying out and executing plans to raise the funds necessary to open our store; including member loans, grants, investment opportunities and traditional business financing. Much of this work will involve hiring attorneys and CPAs to ensure that we are following the law and prudent financial practices.
Securing a Site: Our store will only be a store when we have a place to house it. After conducting site studies and market research, the board is now ready to approach developers with our plans and begin discussions on securing a site.
This is a high priority for a number of reasons, but chiefly we know that announcing a site is what our member-owners are anticipating most. We also know that there are many folks in the community that are “on the fence” and have told us that they will join once we’ve identified a location.
The board is doing its diligence in finding the appropriate site for the store and look forward to putting a sign on the side of a building that says, “Future Home of the Kitsap Community Food Co-op”.
With the success of our “31 in 31” campaign, seating an energetic board and the excitement from the member-owners I meet, I am more optimistic than ever that we will build a store that helps the co-op meet its mission of connecting, “our local community with quality food, products and access to information that promotes a healthy future for our families and our planet.”
Jeff Allen – KCFC President