Expand & Grow

Leading Our Co-ops Beyond Customer Service to Cooperative Service

By Brittany Baird, Rebecca Torpie 194 Jan.-Feb. 2018 As food co-ops forge ahead in the “the new normal,” they often find themselves in the precarious place of trying to both differentiate from and conform to competitors. From the consistent progression of conventional grocery stores towards natural products offerings, to the growing threat [...]

Co-ops at a Crossroads: A Co-op Security Case Study

By Michael Feiner, Paul Feiner 194 Jan.-Feb. 2018 Retail grocery co-ops are as quintessential Vermont as the brilliant colors of our fall foliage, the hallmark herd of Holsteins on the pasture, or the one-room schoolhouse at the crossroads of two backcountry roads. In fact, it’s said that Vermont boasts the most food [...]

Pro Formas and the New Competitive Challenges

In the grocery world, we live in challenging times. Costco and Wal-Mart carry organic products. Supermarket chains tout local produce and have a house brand of organics. Home delivery has everyone buzzing; even Amazon is getting into the action. Pro forma financial statements are forward-looking projections of how your co-op will perform given a [...]

Telling the Board Story Through the Co-op Marketing Department

By Rebecca Torpie 190 May-June 2017 Co-op boards and marketing teams can be like two ships passing in the night. Chances are they’ve crossed paths during election season and annual meeting planning, but contact beyond that can be very limited. At many co-ops, neither the board nor the marketing team truly [...]

Meat Managers Share Advice on Competing with the Big Boys

By Pete Hodgson 189 March-April 2017 A decade ago, it was still a challenge for consumers to find high quality, locally raised meats. Nowadays, there is no shortage of choices. Everyone from the mom-and-pop grocer to the big-box retailer offers some kind of deal on meat—even the gas station! Competitors [...]

Location, Location, Location, part 2

Today’s successful food co-ops are by and large located in more affluent neighborhoods—with shoppers who are typically college-educated and white.  But what if you want to open a co-op in your low-income neighborhood?  What if your neighborhood is primarily African-American?  Latino?  Any new venture, no matter where it’s located, will [...]

Location, Location, Location

When selecting a natural food co-op store location, there are a number of characteristics that can add to, or detract from, the store's opportunity for success or failure. Location characteristics (e.g., target demographics, lifestyle characteristics, trade area accessibility, and retail synergy) are key considerations in the store selection process. Target [...]

Personalities and Performance: Appreciating Differences with Help from Myers-Briggs Assessments

By Joel Kopischke #187 Nov.-Dec 2016 There is no shortage of stressors for people involved in co-ops today. With challenging economic and political conditions added to the hustle and bustle of modern life, topped off with a seeming deterioration of interpersonal communication and growing polarization of personal beliefs, it’s more [...]

Strategic Alliances and Consolidations: Exploring cooperation among cooperatives

By Art Sherwood 186 Sept-Oct 2016 New competition. Shrinking margins. Tighter supply. Rising labor costs. Saturated advertising. Poaching of great employees. Competing in the natural- foods market place is just plain hard. As the market’s “new normal” intensifies with the rush of conventional retail players and new competition into our [...]

Video Field Guide: Membership Growth

Ben Sandel is a board leadership consultant and capital campaign expert working with startups and established co-ops helping them to reach their fundraising goals using best practices and clear planning gleaned from a multitude of successful fundraising efforts from food co-ops and startups nationwide. In this short presentation, Ben imparts [...]