Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Making Milestones

This was a big week in the life of the Co-op. We are excited to announce that we are officially in business!

It started with this piece of paper:

Which led to this piece of paper:

My member equity is in the bank. It's about putting your money where your values are.
I value affordable access to good food.
I value my community.
I value my local economy.
I value the generations that will come after me.
I value my Co-op.

Join me in becoming one of the founding member/owners of the Richmond Food Co-op. Eat the change you want in the world!

-Michele Lord, Board Chair

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Co-op Capitalization Timeline

On Friday we got a call from the State confirming that our incorporation is finalized and we are officially in business. As a cooperative, our community of member/owners will serve as the foundation for our capital campaign, and the key factor in taking us from a highly researched and developed idea to a brick and mortar store open for business.

Our Board has developed a start-up budget that calls for us to raise $1.5 million in capital to open the Richmond Food Cooperative.  The capital plan depends on “member equity” (at $125 equity + $25 joining fee each) from 800 member/owners, to raise a total of $120,000.  How soon we open the Co-op depends on how quickly we can sign up these 800 member/owners.

Our hoped-for recruitment schedule is to sign up 100 member/owners per month, starting this month.  This would allow us to open in September (a 9-month timeline).  In order to be realistic, we have also developed back-up timelines:  12 months (opening in December, 2013) and 18 months (opening in June, 2014).

A second step in financing the Co-op is to set up a member loan campaign. Once we have reached our halfway point of 400 member/owners, we will invite members to further support start up costs by lending money to the Co-op. These loans would be money that the Co-op pays back, with interest, over a set schedule.  Our budget calls for us to raise $600,000 in this way. While not provided by all members, member loans represent commitment and engagement in the co-op on behalf of its members, and will serve as a local investing opportunity to make this a truly Richmond-based venture.
We also expect to raise capital from the proceeds from fundraising events, government economic development funds, crowd sourcing, landlord improvements, contributed product, vendor credit, etc.
The most vital source of capital is a commercial loan.  In our budget, we are planning for about 35% of our total capital to come from a bank loan.  We must, however, have secured the member equity and member loans before we can seek a bank loan.
So, what we are doing right now – recruiting Co-op member/owners – is perhaps the most crucial part of our capital plan, and our timeline for opening the doors of the Richmond Food Cooperative depends on it! It starts with you!

-David King, Board Treasurer

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Case for the Co-op

I’d like to take a couple of minutes to tell anyone reading why I decided to get involved with the co-op, and what it means to me.

First, my keenest interest, personally and professionally, is food.  I’m a regional planner, and I tend to think about the effect that food has on our environment, infrastructure, economy and communities.   For the past nine years or so, I’ve been involved in one food-related project or another.  Most recently I co-chaired the Mayor’s Food Policy Task Force, but this love started when I did my first work-share with a local CSA, and from one project to another, I’ve been very invested in seeing our region’s local food system grow stronger.

And how much stronger it has become!!  We now have far greater opportunity to purchase wonderfully fresh, locally-grown food from a wide variety of sources, and the venues continue to grow.  But I believe that our community food system still has a lot of room to expand, and that this co-op will fill an extremely important role.  In conversations centered around food over the years, I’d often hear the question “why don’t we have a co-op?”, met with eager eyes and exclamations of interest, but  as far as I know, it hasn’t gotten further than that until now. 

Food Co-op Conference  Logo
Another idea that has repeated itself over and over is that of a community-run, food-based meeting center.  The Food Policy Task Force recommended a space where everyone would be welcome to come learn about food, nutrition, cooking and the like, and where the community could use their buying power to make great food more accessible.  The Richmond Food Co-op  fills a lot of this need.  It will be a place for people to come together to take part in the process, to really have a say in what is available, and to use our own time, resources and labor to make it come about.  The opportunity for the physical building to be a place where all people are welcome to shop, but also a community meeting place with the potential for classes, and even less formal information sharing is an important step for our community food system.

From a physical, planning perspective, the co-op, located as planned in Scott’s Addition, will bring life to a currently burgeoning yet still underserved neighborhood.  It will increase foot traffic as more and more customers and members come to shop, and open one of the region’s oldest neighborhoods  to people who were previously unaware of its existence and its charm.  The second most important aspect of the co-op’s physical, grocery store-like space is the consistency for both customers and vendors.  For consumers who struggle to make the step from conventional grocery stores to more strategic food sources, always knowing where the store is and that it will be open and have a wide variety of products (toothpaste and toilet paper in addition to local produce, meat and eggs) will make a significant difference.  And for small new vendors, the flexibility and the consistency of the co-op may be the leg up they need to succeed.

In short, I’m excited about the co-op because it moves the dial in significant ways toward Richmond’s future full, robust, thriving, inclusive and equitable community  food system.  I hope you’ll consider joining me in supporting this worthy endeavor, and becoming a member of the Richmond Food Co-op.

Provence from Phone 123.jpg

Anne Darby, Steering Committee

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Survey Says...

The Richmond Food Co-op wants to know!

The Richmond Food Co-op wants to hear from you!  As a Richmonder, your ideas will help make the Co-op a unique addition to our city's growing foodscape.  Together, we can make the Richmond Food Co-op the best place to buy healthy food.

Members of the community will own the Richmond Food Cooperative.  We will use our combined buying power to access sustainable, local, and organic food for a reasonable price.  Profits will be fed back into the store, or distributed to member share owners.

Please think about where you shop for groceries now, what's important to you, and above all what you wish for.

Click HERE to take our first survey.

In coming months, we will continue to ask you, the member, what you want your Co-op to be.  What is important to carry in the store?  How will we use the community space?  So get engaged, get creative, and keep on the lookout for future announcements.  We're planning forum-style meetings, happy hours, and more questionnaires.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Richmond Food Co-op "Goals for 2013"

We are so thrilled to bring in the New Year! We will have plenty of events that we hope will help you to get to know us better. One event we are looking forward to is our meet and greet January 31st at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery! Stand by for all the details early in 2013.

As we head into the new year, we here at the Richmond Food Co-op have some resolutions of our own we'd like to share and several of them you can help us achieve!

Richmond Food Co-op 2013 Resolutions
  1. 800 members by September 1st 2013. Our membership drive will begin early in January with more details to come!
  2. Building partnerships with local business who support our vision.
  3. 2000 followers on the Richmond Food Co-op Facebook Page!
  4. Growing our community and spreading the word through member-hosted Pot Luck parties.
  5. Keeping and growing money in our local economy through community investments and 200 member loans.
  6. 1000 followers on the Richmond Food Co-op Twitter Page!
  7. Host 12 member and non-member "Meet and Greets" (remember the 1st one is January 31st).
  8. Supporting as many local farms and artisan food sources as possible.
  9. Growing our network of volunteer and support; media, sales, and event experts.
  10. Have our physical space picked out and defined as early as we can in 2013.
  11. Once we've defined the space, getting those doors open for shopping!
So to say we have some lofty resolutions is an understatement, but it will ultimately start with YOUour members. We have some exciting ideas to help our efforts once our memberships start rolling in — some of which involve a Kickstarter campaign and a Member Loan Drive. More to come!

So with that, all of us here at the Richmond Food Co-op wish you a Happy New Year — with much prosperity and good health in 2013! We are so excited to get to meet all of you in the community.