Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Indy Food Cooperative Founding 150

Membership Kick-off Event Big Success!
We had a fantastic turnout at the November 8 Founding 150 Kick-off at Earth House Coffeehouse. With people lined up out the door at 10 minutes to 6 and Sarah Grain's music to set the tone, things were buzzing. Over 200 attended and 30 new members sign up at the event with dozens more pledging to send their check as soon as they got home. For the board, it was very gratifying and validating to see so many people excited about the possibility of opening a non-profit storefront food co-op on the east side of downtown.

If you know that this food co-op is something that you would like to see happen, that you would like to have this store available to shop at, then please invest NOW. The faster we get people signed onto this, the sooner we will have a local store selling food we can trust. Plus you'll get your name on that cool Founding members plaque!

Food Co-op Q & A

Why the cooperative model for a grocery store?
A cooperative is based on a group of people coming together to meet a need. In this case, a group of us (who started out as interested parties and now make up the board) have come together with the goal of filling a grocery need in our community. As a non-profit grocer, we believe that we can meet the need for fresh, local, organic and affordable produce and products in a way that for-profit supermarkets are not. Collectively, we are working together to get a storefront grocery to fill this gap.

When will the store be open?
We expect to open our store "First Harvest" 2009 (mid-summerish).

What is a Founding Member (Founding 150)?
We are currently seeking 150 people to make an equity investment of $150 in the co-op. This special group of members will be our "Founding Members." For each $150, you receive:
One (1) membership with up to three (3) shopper’s cards
One (1) vote in all general membership elections

Member benefits include:
  • Discounts on selected products throughout the store
  • Bulk and case order discounts
  • Discount on co-op classes and events
  • Co-op newsletter
  • Ability to run for elected office on board of directors seat
  • Founding member gift
  • Name on a plaque at the front of the store

This is a lifetime membership, and only a small, annual administration fee will be required (expected to be around $5 - $10).

These Founding Memberships will be available until December 31, 2008, at which time our standard membership scenario will kick in (see below for more information).

Why become a Founding Member?
The basis of a cooperative is a common goal -- in this case, access to healthy food -- and to be successful as a food cooperative, we require the commitment of many people in our community to support it’s efforts by becoming members and shopping at the store for daily food needs. Becoming a founding member is critical in our necessity to determine that there is a broad base of community support for our effort – nothing says commitment like investment! In addition, as a non-profit storefront food cooperative, we will have access to start-up assistance dollars and grants. Funders need to see that an organization that they fund has the support of the community. Founding membership opportunities are common among other cooperatives across the U.S., and is an important first step for Indy Food Co-op. The membership fee is only a small, but important part of an organization’s overall revenue.

What will a standard membership after the Founding Member period cost?
While all the details are yet to be finalized, it is anticipated that after the Founding Member period, the membership will look something like this:
  • 1 time equity-investment per membership (Amount to be determined)
  • 1 application fee per shoppers card (Most likely $25 per card)
  • Minimal yearly maintenance fee (approximately $5 - 10) to facilitate keeping our membership files up to date. This fee applies to Founding Members too.
  • The benefits of the standard membership will be similar to the founding members with only a few exceptions.
Do I have to volunteer time to be a member?
No, there is no requirement of volunteering for the cooperative with a membership. We do hope to offer opportunities to volunteer and participate in aspects of the store, but basic operations will be undertaken by paid staff.

Do I have to join to shop at the store?
No, anyone will be able to shop at the store. However, only members will be able to take advantage of discounts, voting rights and eligibility for a board position.

What is the name of the store?
The board is considering three different possible names for the store. At the membership kick-off meeting, we enlisted feedback from attendees on the name which will help us determine the final name. We will announce that name in the near future.

What is the location of the store?
The location of the store will be just east of downtown Indianapolis. We seek a location that will provide a neighborhood feel, but is also accessible by interstate, bus, bike and foot. We are currently working to negotiate a facility at 10th and Hamilton Streets. It provides the necessary 6,000 s.f. of space, adequate parking, and the opportunity for expansion in the future.

What products will the store carry?
The focus of the store is to support local, fresh, organic and affordable products. These products include produce, dairy products, meat and poultry, fresh and frozen items, bulk goods, baked goods, personal care products and more. A few convention and/or name brand products may also be available. Over time, we will seek value-added opportunities, such as a deli, a coffee shop or a bakery. All the products are intended to support a healthier way of life for those who live in and around Indianapolis.

I have more questions about benefits?
To follow is some additional information about each benefit offered by the cooperative:
In addition to having 1 vote per membership on general membership matters the other benefits of joining are:
  • Member-owners only discounts on select items throughout the store;
Although Co-ops have in the past largely offered a flat discount on all member purchases time has shown this to be an unsustainable policy. Co-ops that have used this set up have continued to struggle economically for decades despite strong community support because they are "refunding" profit before they're even positive they have one. We have chosen to offer only selected discounts. How we see this working is if periodically we get one of our standard items in at a savings over typical costs (which happens quite often in produce and grocery wholesale) we'll pass this savings on to our member-owners only. Or a seasonally appropriate item (like Turkeys at Thanksgiving) may be offered at a discount for our member-owners. We may also offer coupons or have a discount day where member-owners can get a 10% discount on their entire order.
  • Discounts on bulk and case orders;
When members special order a case from one of our suppliers we will offer it at a very slight % above wholesale
  • Discounts on co-op classes and events;
We're planning a very extensive educational component to be a cornerstone of our co-op concept. Cooking, baking, gardening, menu-planning, etc... all of these will be offered either at a discount or free to our member-owners.
  • Ability to hold elected office on our Board of Directors;
Our Co-op is essentially a representative Democracy. You choose the Members of the Board and they decide most issues. All Board meetings are open to members and record of the meetings will be made available. And there are methods of redress should a member-owner feel that an issue needs to be considered by the entire membership. (We'll be posting our bylaws soon.)
  • Co-op Newsletter;
Again an education aspect will be a major part of our business. Newsletters will include articles on various food issues, recipes, community highlights, gardening tips... . A formal outlet for our membership to share their various knowledge with one another.
  • A membership gift;
A sturdy canvas tote/shopping bag with our logo is what we're thinking.
There are a handful of other benefits still being considered by the board. We have been striving toward consensus and although there is overwhelming support for these benefits, some concerns of various board members have yet to be adequately addressed and thus they have not yet been included.

Note: There will be NO mandatory work requirements or purchase minimums. These are not in keeping with our mission and vision.

Who is on the Indy Food Cooperative Board?
Kyle Hendrix, President
Joshua Bowling, Vice President
Dani Cunningham-Dawson, Secretary
Mary Bowling, Treasurer
Katherine Ogawa, Recording Secretary
Chris Barnett
Mark Saetre
Deborah Sluss
Darren Allumier
Laura Henderson
Julie L. Rhodes

1 comment:

Kris Angarola Davidson said...

I hope this continues to revitalize the Near East-side - a local and affordable grocery store would create such a boost to the neighborhood. I will check for updates, volunteer opportunities and news of the Coop's progress. Can I also put in a bid to design the member newsletter? :)

Kris | Holy Cross Neighborhood