First, THANK YOU to all of you who have seen the vision for a food cooperative market in the Village of Williamsville. Without your vision, commitment and support, we would be nowhere near where we are today.
As we near the close of the year, I wanted to provide you an update with all we’ve done so far to turn our dream into a reality. And what a year we’ve had! We incorporated in September 2017 and began accepting memberships in October 2017. We held our first formal meetings as well as a social event, bringing together for the first time those who shared the same goal. It was a fantastic event!
Thanks to generous grants from both Erie County and the Amherst Industrial Development Agency, we were able to complete our feasibility study, getting us one step closer to securing a location for the co-op. As we hoped, we learned from the study that the co-op would be a success if located in the Village of Williamsville. During the exit interview, the consultant indicated that this would be a “slam dunk!” Can’t get much better than that! We had the dream that this co-op would work, and now we have the confirmation from the professionals.
We held a variety of events designed for us to get to know each other better while increasing awareness for the co-op. First, we had our booth at the Williamsville Farmer’s Market, which was staffed by many of you. We got to know each other while communicating our shared vision to grow the co-op. Our presence at the Farmer’s Market helped to more than triple our membership.
In addition to our presence at the Farmer’s Market, we had a few other events that really showed our strength. We demonstrated our commitment to the community by holding a Village park cleanup and celebrated with a summer cookout. During our board meetings, both the East Aurora Co-op and Ben from Providence Creek Farm presented information that would help us grow our knowledge to make our co-op as successful as it can be. To quote Ben, “who knew cows could swim”.
We’ve also been in the press! Between coverage from local newspapers and our segment on AM Buffalo, we have truly widened the audience of potential member-owners and shoppers!
We started the dream of the co-op with 12-15 member-owners. Our membership goal for the first year was 100 member-owners. Thanks to all of you, we far surpassed that goal and are at 262+, which is incredible and all thanks to your efforts! Our goal for end of next year is to get to 600 member-owners. Once we reach that number we can go into the next phase of development: putting together the pro forma. Starting this fall, we will form committees to help work on the different functional needs of the co-op, and I encourage you to help if you’re able. Don’t worry about your skills – your dedication, and commitment are all that’s needed!
To date, 256 members has brought in $38,400 plus $12,000 in grant dollars received. Our big expense was the feasibility study and our incorporation with insurance. We have approximately $33,000 in savings plus an additional $1,700 left over from our grant. We are requesting additional grant dollars from the county this year.
My challenge to you in the New Year is for each of you to bring in JUST ONE new member-owner this year. Whether its friends, relatives or neighbors, try to leverage your network to show them the benefits of membership. If we all did that, we would be ready to move forward to the capital campaign and negotiations with developers (who are already interested in jumping on this project!). If you need help or ideas on how to bring in new member-owners, just ask the board: we’re happy to help.
A big THANK YOU goes out to those individuals who donated money and time to help this year. All the signs you see on lawns were funded by donations from your fellow member-owners. If you wish to donate, please reach out to me. Additionally, if you have not received your tote or want a lawn sign, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, to the current Board plus several others, I cannot express my gratitude I have for each and every one of you. The time, dedication and commitment you brought to our cooperative and to the Village is amazing and an inspiration to move forward.
There are exciting things to come as we head into 2019! Keep following us on all our social media sites and make sure to like, retweet, and share our posts - every little bit helps to get the word out. You can also sign up and help. The more involvement we get, the larger we grow and the quicker we can make our market a reality.
And remember to ask…are you an owner yet?
Have a wonderful holiday season and again, thank you for all your support this year.
Village Cooperative Market of Williamsville
Ps. Enjoy the video!