If I had a membership for every time we were asked that question..... we'd be open by now! That is the hot, burning question that we get asked everywhere we go. Everyone involved in the start-up process understands the excitement, anticipation, and demand for a food co-op from the community, but it is a process. The process we are following was developed by Cooperative Development Services and is called the "4 Cornerstones in 3 Stages". It has been proven to be successful by other start-up's across the nation. Speaking of which, did you know we are 1 of 125 other co-op start-ups in the U.S.? Pretty awesome, right? But back to the process...
The model is based upon the four cornerstones of vision, talent, capital, and systems that are each within three stages of food co-op development: organizing, feasibility and planning, and implementation. The four cornerstones comprise the attributes of a successful start-up within the three stages. We are currently in stage 2.
Until November of 2013, our efforts were entirely volunteer-driven. This was maintained by several hours of sweat equity poured out by our board of directors and volunteers. We now have a part-time Outreach Coordinator (yours truly) to handle membership, PR, and planning. We've also got an amazing, rock-star group of people devoting their time and talents to marketing, finance, site selection, and communication. You see, we can't do this alone and that is why we are so passionate about creating a COOPERATIVE instead of a single-owner natural foods market. At the co-op we work together to get things done. And yes, sometimes it may take longer. But we're not going anywhere and we all think its worth it. We are creating a flagship business whose model and values are rooted in sustainability, fair trade, social responsibility, equality, and honesty. Values we feel are desperately needed in the marketplace.
With that said, we would love to be able to give you an opening date, but a co-op is a different kind of animal. We will work our buns off to organize, promote, build, partner, and develop the co-op the best that we can, but it really comes down to you. So, if you ask "when will the co-op open?" I will ask you in return, "are you a member yet?" We can build this together with cooperation and community.