Grow Your Business

Know Your Where & Why: The Value of CAT Surveys

Knowing where you draw your business from is a good idea; knowing how you’re performing in your trade area is even better. A Customer Address and Transaction (CAT) survey accomplishes both, giving you a valuable snapshot to inform marketing focus. It’s a straightforward analysis worth returning to time and time again. “The CAT survey is particularly useful for generating more sales without spending a [...]

Preparing for the Launch of Columinate: CDS Consulting Co-op Rebrand

Like many of the established cooperatives and organizations we work with, our relationships go back almost a generation. We have been thrilled to be part of so many remarkable transformations in our sector over the years. Every day we’ve supported people as they have made important changes to their work culture and identity—all while being in service to the betterment of their communities. We’ve [...]

Leadership Development for Expansion Readiness

Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Middlebury, VT Year founded: 1976 Member investment: $300 Number of members: 5,300 Number of employees: 85 Retail square feet: 9,000 The Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op is uniquely situated in small town Middlebury, Vermont. Rather than becoming one of those places that time forgot, it has maintained a vibrant community in a place known for its natural beauty and arts and [...]

Expanding the Boundaries of Retailing in Local Communities

Contemporary food co-ops have begun important discussions in their organizations around equity and inclusion. As part of that process, they’ve had to accept and deal with some painful truths that their co-ops have not always been perceived as inclusive, especially through the shopping experience. Food co-op customers in particular are often skewed toward a certain demographic—white, educated, affluent people. Outreach to those who are [...]

Weavers Way-Ambler Startup Merger Spurs Co-op Momentum

  Year founded: 1973 Member equity: $400 Number of members: 9,400 Number of employees: 200 Locations: six total, including a farmer’s market and one wellness and pet store When the only grocery store in Ambler, Pennsylvania closed, it galvanized the town of 6,500 people into action. Rather than recreate the former grocery store’s approach to conventional retailing, though, they explored launching a food co-op [...]

Real Estate Resource Guide

This guide seeks to clarify the tools and resources available for food co-ops to efficiently secure and develop the physical space needed for their store. The need to design and build an attractive building in a location that easily serves a growing shopper base and can attract new customers is vital. A co-op’s location is either an advantage or a disadvantage; it is best [...]

Co-op Capitalization Campaigns that Engage and Inspire

Research suggests that public speaking tops the list as the number-one fear-inducing activity for most people. Put that together with asking people for money, and you’ve got a potent combination for high anxiety. If you have a project you believe in—especially if you’re a cooperator seeking to finance a startup or expansion—sharing your passion for why you think people should support it doesn’t have [...]

Capital Campaign Funding Builds Expansion Momentum

Astoria Food Co-op Astoria, OR Year founded: 1974 Member investment: $200 Number of members: 4,200 Number of employees: 25 Retail square feet: 2,000 currently (7,000 Summer 2019) The town of Astoria, Oregon has a strong independent streak. While other nearby areas are overrun with chain stores, their town has not sustained that level of attention or development. That doesn’t mean the 10,000 people who [...]

Leading Our Co-ops Beyond Customer Service to Cooperative Service

By Brittany Baird, Rebecca Torpie 194 Jan.-Feb. 2018 As food co-ops forge ahead in the “the new normal,” they often find themselves in the precarious place of trying to both differentiate from and conform to competitors. From the consistent progression of conventional grocery stores towards natural products offerings, to the growing threat of internet retailers, food co-ops are experiencing an increasingly urgent pressure to raise the [...]

Is An Owner Capital Campaign Right For Your Co-op?

It seems like many co-ops are either in the middle of, just finished, or are about to start a project. And all of those projects need adequate capital to be successful. Raising money from co-op owners has become a standard component of project capitalization and the amounts co-ops are raising has been growing. As with any entrepreneurial venture there are risks, both in raising [...]