growth

Assessing Emerging Expansion Opportunities

As co-op leaders recognize that reinvestment in their business is critical to long-term sustainability, they need some tools to help them assess whether any particular reinvestment makes sense. When business expansion is on the list of possibilities, the risks are higher and so the assessment needs to be more rigorous. Leaders must certainly undertake adequate due diligence before finalizing an expansion project, but how [...]

Restoring Trust and Vibrancy in a Co-op Community

Central Co-op Seattle, WA Year founded: 1978 Number of members: 14,200 Consumer member investment: $100 Worker member investment: $6,340 (12 years) Number of employees: 120 Locations: Seattle and Tacoma (opening date late spring TBD) When the Central Co-op in Seattle, Wash. proposed a vote to merge with the Tacoma Food Co-op in 2015, the memberships of both co-ops overwhelmingly approved it. Both communities saw [...]

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 [...]

Video Field Guide: Membership Growth

Ben Sandel is a board leadership consultant and capital campaign expert working with startups and established co-ops helping them to reach their fundraising goals using best practices and clear planning gleaned from a multitude of successful fundraising efforts from food co-ops and startups nationwide. In this short presentation, Ben imparts some great top-level wisdom about how to plan and organize a successful campaign and [...]

The Hero’s Journey of Growth

Delene Porter, the General Manager at Daily Groceries in Athens, GA shares what she calls the Hero's Journey that is the path for the future of her co-op. Shedding parts of their past, acquiring skills and tools for the present and future, Daily Groceries underwent a transformation that truly is courageous.

Membership Growth Strategies for Startups: Common Features of Success

By Ben Sandel 182 January-February 2016 Gaining members quickly and efficiently is a major hurdle for most startup co-ops. A co-op is selling a dream when it has no store, minimal (if any) staff, and, when organizing in areas that don’t have other food co-ops, no credible examples to refer to. This can make membership growth slow and painful. Nevertheless, some startups have had [...]

Board’s Role in Expansion Projects

No matter what kind of expansion your co-op wants to do, there are always hurdles to be overcome.  Everyone has them, although some projects come with a unique set of challenges.  The Hendersonville Community Co-op in Hendersonville, North Carolina has had numerous locations and expansions in its 30+ year history, but their latest expansion going from 3,800 to 8,000 square feet, required a re-working [...]

Stayin’ Athrive

At Outpost Natural Foods they've achieve success by growing their co-op too reach a wider portion of the market and to create increased access to healthful foods for much of the Milwaukee area. Hear from their GM, Pam Mehnert, some valuable insights and first-hand reports about what has worked well for Outpost on their journey through growth.

We Don’t Have to Create the Story, We are the Story

Bobby Sullivan, the general manager of French Broad Food Co-op has some clear and direct ideas about how co-ops can and must thrive amidst growing competition.  The area of Asheville, North Carolina is an extremely competitive market for natural foods, and the co-op needed to step up its game.  By focusing on excellent service and marketplace differentiation as a co-op, they are seeing rapid [...]

Competition Plus Innovation Equals Excellence

For many years GreenStar Natural Foods Market “peacefully coexisted” with its local competition in Ithaca, New York. As more conventional grocers are wooing the natural food consumer with convenience and price points, the pressure is on. Brandon Kane, the co-op’s general manager has responded with a focus on community, diversity, collaboration and efficient operations. “We want to overcome our elitist perception,” Kane said, as [...]