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!
Your Board President