The Time to Invest is NOW!

Hello Co-op Member Owners,

Let’s start this update with a BIG THANK YOU to our members who have made investments!! To date, you have invested $187,000!  We are on our way!! The Cooperative Fund of New England, a primary lending institution for cooperatives, has been following our project closely and have recently shared that they're willing to increase our financing to $500,000 once we've raised a minimum of $750,000 in Member Loans and Preferred Shares to get us closer to the finish line! This is a big win and shows their confidence and interest in our project (we are excited about this! - but this doesn’t change our $1.5 Million Goal). The board team has also grown by two with new boardies Ted and Bob joining this July to help execute the Capital Campaign - we welcome them with open arms (and lots of high-fives as we go into the next few weeks fully prepared to reach our campaign goals). Look for their bio’s on Facebook and the website to learn more about them.

Since we last spoke, we have been given an extension on our timeline to raise the capital we need to open our ahh-maz-ing new store. Our new target date is September 30th - that is just 9 weeks from today! In the next 9 weeks we need to raise, at a minimum, an additional $563,000 for our project to move forward.  This gets us to a total of $750,000 which would give us the funds needed to take over the lease and acquire the assets of the Harvest Market - as it is!  At that point we will make changes to the inventory and layout - but we would be making NO MAJOR CHANGES to the store physically until we’re able to secure additional financing.

For every dollar we raise over the $750,000, we will be able to make improvements and changes such as expanding on the deli and seating areas, and adding Bulk Food and Health and Beauty products - and much, much more. Ideally our goal is to reach $1.5 million to have the ultimate Co-op Experience! (We can do it!!)  

But what happens if we don’t reach the minimum of $750,000 by September 30th? Well, that news is not so good.  Financially, we will be close to running out of cash and our agreement with Associated Grocers to take over Harvest Market will expire. As we get closer to the September 30th deadline, depending upon how much we’ve raised, we will assess our progress, but falling short of the $750,000 would most likely require us to go back to the drawing board. The timeline for opening a store would be extended out at least a few more years as we will need to rebuild funds, membership and search for a financially feasible location.  Wowzers - right!!?? We can’t and we won’t let that happen!! It’s time for everyone to INVEST!

So what do we need to do to be successful in the next 9 weeks?  In the spirit of cooperatives we need to pull together as a community.  We need to rally together! We need to encourage new members to join and existing members to make their investments - TODAY!  It means that we should all tell our friends to become members and suggest that they invest, too. Businesses are able to become members and invest as well! The investment options, while have risk associated with them, are GREAT investment opportunities!!  Our consultants tell us that with our large membership of 1,400 people, we have the right number of people to meet our campaign goals (the full $1.5 Million).  We’ve Got This!

Over the next 9 weeks our goal will be to raise $100,000 per week in member investments. CLICK HERE to read about the offerings available! Our group of volunteers will be calling all members whom we have not yet spoken to. The board and your GM will be taking in-person meetings to review our plans, investment options, and answer questions. We will be increasing signage in the Harvest Market, and we will be emailing members frequently until we hit this goal!  Social Media will be filled with updates as well, so keep an eye out there - mostly on Facebook. As always, we need your help!  Volunteers are vital during this time - especially campaign callers! If you are interested, email us at the email address mentioned below (even a few hours goes a long way).

If you have been thinking about investing - The time is NOW!  You can reach us directly for investments or to volunteer at GM@manchesterfood.coop, Investments@manchesterfood.coop, or by calling 603-305-6340.

Join us tomorrow (Tuesday Evening) For a special Member Meeting to talk through all of these details and our plans for success. 6pm at the Derryfield Park Gazebo in Manchester, parking is near the playground.  You can RSVP:  CLICK HERE

We’re off to build OUR Co-op!

-Your Board & GM  


PS: All investments are held in a secured account and are not available until such time that we’ve raised at least 80% of minimum funding requirement ($750,000 * 80% = $600,000).  If we don’t reach the crucial $750,000 minimum and our project is not able to move forward, all investments will be returned.

Celebrating Our Progress!

Well here we are - July 5th. We have just completed the first six weeks of the Capital Investment Campaign and Big thanks to you, our amazing members, who have invested $160,000!!   Are you scratching your head and saying - well, why are you celebrating? I thought the goal was $1.5MILLION - well yes - that is STILL the goal - to bring you the best food co-op with all of the bells and whistles...and in order to do that we need additional volunteer assistance. But for today - let’s celebrate some exciting things that happened over the past two months.  

The Board and a small group of very, very dedicated volunteers (Terrie Bourque, Joanne Loughran, Barth Getto, Anthony Ferrara, Laurene Jacobs & Cathy Farly) have been working hard making calls out of the 1,400 that need to be made - that’s a lot of dialing, emailing, and following up for this fantastic group!!  BUT the good news to celebrate is that we are ON TRACK - our percent of calls to investments is spot-on for the world of co-ops at 30%.  So what does this tell us?   We are going to DO THIS... it is just going to take more time and more volunteers to assist with making calls, attending networking meetings and outreach events to spread the word. As we have said - many times over - it takes a village, but we need to get the communication out to the village so everyone knows how to play their part (wink wink).  This is the big big mountain we climb together to get our Co-op open, for everyone to enjoy the wonderful local food, community education and programs.   And Associated Grocers is granting us more time to complete our journey and look down upon the view from our mountain-top ;)

So what’s next … We are now actively recruiting more help - both volunteer help and Board help.  We have 5 open seats on the Board and each one needs to be filled - especially at this critical time when it’s all-hands-on-deck, our small team is not big enough.  We also need an army of volunteers to help with the capital campaign.  We are going to take a few weeks to regroup, recruit and train to form a larger tribe - and then it’s GAME ON and we will be back to calling everyone who has not been contacted yet - attending more networking meetings and spreading the word.


NOW IS THE TIME to get involved to help us see this through, please email havella@manchesterfood.coop for more information and to hop on the boat to opening our doors!

We've Raised $100,000!

I am happy to report that our Capital Investment Campaign is in full swing and the response has been overwhelming!  We have raised $100,000 to date and mailing out Member Investment Packets is a full time job!  We are officially one month away from our deadline to secure the lease for the Harvest Market site; we can’t sign the dotted line without the necessary Capital from our Members.   Thank you for all the requests for packets - we know so many of you are currently reviewing them to make your personal decision: to buy shares or to loan?  That is the question. ;)   Thank you for considering this investment in your Co-op, and thereby in your agriculture, economy and community!!

 

We couldn’t build this Co-op without its Member-Owners - so now is a great time to thank a few key people.

 

First off, our volunteer callers! Your Co-op can’t thank you enough for all of the time you have been donating to call members and discuss Investment Campaign details:  

 

Terrie Bourque, Joanne Loughran, Barth Getto, Anthony Ferrara, Laurene Jacobs & Cathy Farly.  THANK YOU!  Your dedication to the cause and the Co-op is unwavering and we appreciate all of the time you have been donating to help bring these dreams to reality!

 

Secondly - let’s talk about that great BVI event from two weeks ago. WOW! Thank you to everyone who joined us but also let’s tip our hats with gratitude to our sponsors - this event didn’t cost the co-op a cent -- not a single penny - thanks to the generosity of the BVI for donating the space and the hospitality staff for the evening!   And our friends - especially Steve Friedman from 92.5 the River for providing the musical entertainment - MB Padfield was ahhh-mazing and even had some of our friends dancing on the dancefloor! YAY!!  We wish you all the best!  And last but not least - CGI Business Solutions for providing the wine tasting and the snacks for the night - YUM! We all got to sample some fantastic local wines that I must say - were delish! We even spotted the Candia Vineyards winemaker in the attendance (hehe we also caught him ripping up the dancefloor - how fun!!)  Nice to meet you Bob Dabrowski!

 

And THIRD - Thank you to YOU, our Member-Owners for believing in the mission - for investing in our future - and for supporting your board while we work as hard as we can to open our store.  It truly takes a village - and together we are creating some big change for our community and local economy.  Big huge enormous THANK YOU - to YOU & YOU & YOU ;-)  All of the investments that have been coming in are keeping us fired up and the momentum flowing upwards to our goal.  This week, calls will continue to all members.

 

Lastly, all board meetings have been suspended while we focus on calling and on the investment campaign. If you would like to help us make calls and conduct outreach please let us know, you can email us at info@manchesterfood.coop  AND to bypass a phone call and jump straight to investing - please email investments@manchesterfood.coop to request an investment packet for review.  

 

So, THANK YOU to everyone… and here’s to making something BIG happen ;-)  

 

Until next time,

Sarah-Marie

The Capital Investment Campaign - is ON!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s here.  The Capital Investment Campaign has officially kicked-off for the Food Co-op! WOW!!  What a journey it has been. I remember when I joined the board in August of 2014 we were ALMOST at 1000 members and once we hit that milestone we celebrated and were overjoyed that we could begin our next steps to find a location.  As many of you know, we searched and searched, looked at over 12 different locations and conducted 3 Market Studies to help us identify a financially appealing home.  We really thought we were going to be searching for another year and had started to consider building a store from scratch - but the financial impact of that would have been double what we were looking at from a leasing perspective.  So we then decided to fundraise to build a mobile truck - one that would be able to serve our community all the time by roaming the city and partnering with local businesses for awesome parking spots and accessibility.  We promised this wouldn’t get in the way of finding a location - and within two weeks of launching the truck campaign - BAM! We were presented with an opportunity that we couldn’t refuse - to purchase the Harvest Market in Bedford. So the truck was put on hold and here we are -- taking our next steps to open up in Bedford.

 

We know - some of you have been outspoken with your opinions about this location but we truly believe (and have facts & data to support) that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity  - and we will be set up for growth like no other option we had explored or imagined.  We are starting our co-op with an existing clientele (not only all of you, our members, but also the loyal shoppers who spend over $7 million annually at this location) YES! I said $7million - if we were to have started from scratch (lease & fit-up or custom build) we wouldn’t see $7 million in annual sales until at least year 3 or 4 of operating. We are also going to be opening with existing infrastructure - do you know how much coolers and walk-in freezers cost?! (holy $%*&).

 

So, here we are today: we are almost to 1,400 members strong. We are about to purchase a business that already does over $7 Million in annual sales and has pretty much all of the infrastructure we need to operate. Also, thanks to our good friends at Associated Grocers of New England, we have a long term low interest loan for existing equipment and inventory that saves us TONS in capital that we would have needed to raise.

 

Our mission - now - today - is to raise the remaining capital needed to fully take ownership of the location and convert to the co-op. What does convert mean? This means we will be changing the product mix to more local, sustainable, and natural products. We will be adding awesome things like bulk, health and beauty, supplements, prepared foods that will blow your mind, and even offer interactive and engaging classes and educational sessions.  

 

You, all of our members, are OWNERS of this awesome opportunity. It is YOUR co-op! You are the ones who will be able to shop here for your favorite farm fresh eggs and milk, pick up your favorite locally made soap, and grab a bottle of wine from one of our many NH wineries, or a few beers from that new brewery that just opened up. You will purchase breads fresh out of the oven and buy seafood caught that same day from the coast. This is YOUR store. You vote on the big decisions at annual meetings, you will receive dividends based on profits. Not only do you get all the benefits of shopping here and owning a piece of this amazing community center, but you will also earn member incentives that our General Manager will develop that could include things like discount days, bulk buying programs, and first-sign-up opportunities for cooking classes, guest speakers, and anything else you can imagine that might happen here. This is all about YOU - our members and community - and US who all now have this healthy food hub in our backyards, whether that be a 2 minute drive or a 20 minute drive. It’s worth it to support something that you believe in and OWN.

 

With the fast success of our Bedford location we will be in a good position to open second and third locations within a few years, and the food truck project will be brought back to life! The overall vision, for the entire Manchester Area to be served and benefit from this co-op, is the priority! We will be doing all we can to fulfill that vision and bring all of our co-op dreams to reality!

 

Please join me and the rest of the board in our next steps of raising the capital we need to hang our sign on the building and officially call this place home. Join me and your fellow members to set out on a course that will change the way the Greater Manchester Area shops for local and natural foods! We have two investment opportunities and both are very appealing. Preferred Shares and Member Loan options are fantastic ways to support your co-op. Please CLICK HERE to review them and decide which option is best for you.

 

Our goal is to have all funding raised by June 30th! We can do it! Once the capital is raised, we anticipate a Fall ribbon cutting ceremony. YAHOO!

 

XO

Sarah-Marie

Your Board President

 

 

 

Our New General Manager!

We are so happy and excited to have hired our new General Manager for the Co-op, Patrick Neily.  Patrick has over 15 years of experience working at Food Co-op’s including his most recent role as General Manager of the Just Foods Co-op in Minnesota and previous to that as the Merchandising Programs Coordinator at the Hanover Food Co-op here in NH.  With his combined experience and amazing attitude we - as member owners - will see great things happen under Patrick's leadership over the next few years.  Patrick started his first day with us in February and we thought it would be great to introduce everyone to him here on our blog.  We asked Patrick to answer some questions about himself, take a read below and if you see him in the store, please be sure to say hello!  

Q: Why are you so excited about this opportunity?

A: So many reasons to be excited about this opportunity. This Co-op will be the first true 'conversion' start up, as well as one of the largest stores (by square feet) of any start up to date.  Also, it is so great bringing a co-op grocery to Southern NH!

Q: What is the ONE thing that you like best about Co-op’s?

A: The empowerment that it brings to the communities it serves- through shared ownership, social engagement through food and as a workplace of choice.

Q: What is your funniest co-op story?

A: My funniest story working for a co-op..... This is tough!  I guess I'd say that would be a combination of funny moments, where, as General Manager at my previous co-op I would challenge my staff to meet certain goals, with the reward being I would dress in costume at an upcoming event.  They USUALLY met the goals, but I always dressed up because they tried so hard!

Q: What would we find in your shopping cart each week?

A: The top 5 items I buy from my co-op are  lots of fresh, delicious produce; humanely raised eggs; local cheddar cheese; Stonyfield and Greek Gods yogurt; and pretty much any healthier snack that my children will tolerate!

Q: What brings you back to NH?

A: I was born, raised and lived in NH until late 2012 when my family and I took a journey to the mid-West for another Co-op.  There are so many great reasons to come back to NH- family, the mountains and lakes, and of course, southern NH's first food co-op!