The “Manchester Food Co-op” was originally conceived by the faculty and staff of the School of Community Economic Development (SCED) at Southern New Hampshire University located in Manchester, NH at its first public community meeting on December 3, 2009. In March 2010, the highly regarded Stonyfield Entrepreneurship Institute selected the co-op’s case study to be featured at the 2 day entrepreneur’s boot-camp. A panel of 12 established business professionals in various industries reviewed the case study, and were enthusiastic about its financial viability.
After reviewing the valuable information provided by the panel, the co-op was incorporated in May 2010 with its founding Board of Directors. The official membership drive to secure our “Founding 1,000” Member-Owners followed thereafter in 2014. Currently, the co-op has over 1,300 Member-Owners.
Since its formation, the co-op has worked with national consultants to identify a suitable location for the establishment of a retail food market. It has evaluated over 12 different sites through the Greater Manchester area, including feasibility studies for each of the sites. The capital required to open a market in these locations approximated $24 million and it was projected that it would take between 7 and 8 years to achieve profitability.
In 2015, the co-op became aware of an opportunity to lease the Harvest Market store operated by Associated Grocers of New England (AGNE) in Bedford, New Hampshire. In December 2015, a letter of intent was signed between the two parties which calls for the co-op to purchase the equipment and inventory of the Harvest Market location and to sub-lease the Bedford store. The capital required to acquire this Harvest Market location as the co-op’s first retail market is projected to be $1.5 million and profitability is expected to be achieved within the first 3 years. The parties have set August 1, 2016 as the closing date for the acquisition.
The co-op is a “Member-Owner” owned organization established to provide a diverse selection of high quality, healthy, local and organically produced foods to the Greater Manchester area.
The founders of the co-op, its Board of Directors, and its Member-Owners envision the co-op supporting and contributing to the Greater Manchester area by:
● Making healthy, local food accessible to the Greater Manchester community all year round
● Creating more local jobs and keeping money in the community
● Supporting the region’s farmers and helping to preserve the rural landscape
● Offering education and training (cooking, nutrition, and food preparation and preservation classes, etc.) to employees, the general public and community leaders
● Working with other businesses on sustainable development in the Greater Manchester area
● Serving as a community center with workshops and community service programs
● Helping to promote a strong local economy