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Reflecting on 2022 - Co-Op Progress!

Happy January 2023!

Exciting news abounds the Co-op this past year. We think we have found our home. We have been working with Hunt Real Estate to find a location and the site selection committee made up of member owners, developers and others have identified a property that appears to check all the boxes. Still to be negotiated is the lease. Consultants hired, bank representatives and other community support associates have reviewed the initial proposal and have agreed it appears to work in the Cooperatives business plan.

Often we hear: “Why is it taking so long?” Food Co-op Initiative’s Jacqueline Hannah, Food Co-op Development Specialist, who’s role it is to work with start-ups to offer support, guidance, and resources, described how when conventional grocery stores announce they are moving to a community, a store opens in about 6 months – but what you aren’t told is that they have been working, behind the scenes, for *years* before that announcement is made. The difference with Co-ops is that you may have heard about this project *from the very beginning* - which is great, because Co-ops strive to be transparent in our communications. But it does make the wait seem longer because you are more aware of the full process and each step that has to happen to make the store a reality.

We created a detailed timeline to guide our work. We are currently in phase 3 moving to phase 4!!!

Given the solid work of the board so far, taking into consideration current competition and markets, and reviewing our

previous projections for sales, it is VERY POSSIBLE to make this project successful and open a Co-op here in Williamsville.

Understanding that opening this Co-op will take a community effort and how we can help bring that forward.

Learning from other start-ups and successful co-ops, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel – our job is to make it right for Williamsville! We thank Lexington Co-op and the East Aurora Co-op for their support and guidance.

As we move towards 800 Member-Owners we will be in touch with the financial experts who specialize in Co-operative start-ups like ours, to help conduct the crucial financial analysis. This may not sound important, but this step will ready us to develop our business plan and have the data we need to meet with lenders and work with owners to secure loans down the road as we take one more step towards getting the doors open. We have already secured 200K from a Cooperative Development fund!!

Capital Campaign

What is a Capital Campaign?

The Capital Campaign is the Co-op’s primary method for raising funds necessary to equip and open our community owned grocery store. In the capital campaign, the Co-op reaches out to its member-owners and asks them to invest in their Co-op. As with most businesses, owners invest for a financial return. But unlike conventional businesses, member-owners invest in their co-op not only for personal financial gain, but also to support a community centered business that shares their values and benefits the community as a whole. This is, in fact, one of the seven principles of a co-op. It is economic participation by its member-owners. Also note that this is an investment designed to pay a return; it is not a donation. The Co-op is able to accept donations, but this is not our primary source of funding. Additionally, the Co-op can work with individuals on possible large donations and loans. Contact one of the Board Members for details.

Volunteer Project: Mentoring at the Farmer’s Market!

Summer Farmer Market plans are already underway! Are you interested in sharing information about the Co-op and signing up new Member-Owners? You would be paired with an experienced board member to learn how – everything’s more fun in pairs! Email us to let us know you are interested, and we will match you up with a board member who will be in touch with details.

2023 is going to be a year of immense progress and work as we keep this project on track. We will be reaching out to you, our community – the Member-Owners of the Co-op – for your support, insights, and help. As you think about the possibilities and promise of 2023, think also about how you will help take concrete steps to grow membership, spread the word, and help us get closer to opening the doors.

We cannot do this without you – because Co-ops are all about doing it together! Let us keep moving forward!

As always, thank you for being part of this journey.

The Board

Village Cooperative Market of Williamsville

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