Co-op members know that one way to shape the future of our community and our planet is to vote with our dollars by supporting local farmers and business owners rather than the multinational corporations that have come to dominate our politics and society.
What would happen if thousands of us withdrew our money from the giant banks whose reckless actions were responsible for the collapse of the global financial system? What if we were to put it to work in small, local banks and businesses instead?
We would end up with an amazing community-owned grocery store called The Great Basin Community Food Cooperative!
In 2011 hundreds of our committed member-owners moved money by making sizeable loans and investing their membership equity to help our co-op relocate into our current space at 240 Court St.
Without any formal lending from a bank our co-op pulled together nearly $709,000 in loans, equity, donations and grants. The results are clear and can be seen in our amazing storefront, the new DROPP distribution center and the recent health department certification of our commercial kitchen.
2013 marks our second big push for this same kind of membership investment. Our big goal is to gain full membership access into the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) as well as enter a more cash stable position.
There are generally four stages in any business’s life cycle: start-up, growth, maturity and, in some cases, decline. With over a year operating in our new location on Court Street, the Co-op is robustly in the growth phase.
The Co-op’s goals for the 2013 member loan drive are to acquire sufficient working capital to grow the business, build cash reserves and put itself in the financial position to finish the community café within a year or two. Achieving these goals is essential to achieving financial stability and serving our membership and other customers.
Cash flow challenges are typical for a business in its growth phase. The Co-op’s sales are exceeding projections but it incurs significantly higher-than-projected operating costs for nearly everything, including inventory, staff, utilities and building rent.
Earlier this year the Co-op was granted associate membership in the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), which can be described as a co-op of food co-ops. This past May, the Co-op was invited to apply for admission as a full member of NCGA because sales have grown to a level equivalent to $2 million (or more) a year.
One key benefit of full membership is the ability to purchase many goods that the Co-op currently buys directly from UNFI, our largest wholesale vendor, through NCGA at a significantly lower cost by accessing NCGA’s much larger purchasing power (referred to as the NCGA CAP Program).
This will enable the Co-op to improve profit margins (which are not yet at ideal levels for small cooperatives) and/or lower some of our prices. To take advantage of this opportunity, the Co-op will have to pay UNFI, which has extended the Co-op credit, the entire outstanding balance on its account.
Second, the Co-op will need to assure that it has sufficient funds in an account that NCGA can directly debit for the Co-op’s purchases from UNFI. Third, the Co-op will need to demonstrate that it has cash reserves for operations. Taking advantage of this opportunity to lower the Co-op’s cost of goods requires a substantial infusion of working capital and cash reserves – approximately $200,000 in total.
The Co-op’s application for full membership will be considered by the NCGA’s board of directors in January of next year. If approved, the Co-op can anticipate enrolling in the NCGA CAP Program beginning in the summer of 2014.
Our goal is to raise an additional $210,000 so that we can apply to the January 1 deadline application for the NCGA.
If you would like to help our co-op expand while moving your money away from a traditional profit-driven bank, please consider loaning it to the Co-op instead.
We promise to feed it, care for it, and use it to build a more sustainable local economy instead of gambling it away in the global financial casino.
Member loans can earn up to anywhere from 0-3% percent interest and can be made for terms of ranging 1 to 7 years. The minimum loan amount is $1,000 and in the past members have loaned and/or donated up to $80,000!
However, if you aren’t ready to commit to the minimum loan amount, yet still want to show support, then consider investing your full membership share of $200 (for anyone who hasn’t already done so).
Ask any cashier for details on how you can pay 10 years (the full share) of your membership today. For additional information please contact email@example.com … THANKS!