Every annual board retreat is usually designed around answering a strategic question or questions related to the co-op’s future. At Co-opportunity Natural Foods in Santa Monica, Calif. the board decided to address growth issues by considering its benefits to the community. Dean Kubani, the co-op’s board president said that the co-op has enjoyed a high level of support of its owners, but the question of growth has been stickier. “People are wary of growth for growth’s sake,” Kubani said, “and they ask, why grow? It’s a reasonable question.”

dean-kubani-vCompetitive pressures point to co-op expansion as necessary in order to compete, and there seems to be room for more growth in the marketplace. “But we have to look at the benefits of growth from the perspective of the co-op model. We’re different from the corporate model. We’re providing benefits to our community and expanding the good we do.”

At the retreat, the board could see how the co-op could multiply its benefit to staff, community partners, and local farmers and producers. Now that they’ve clarified their thinking about growth, they are thinking about a second store, and laying the groundwork for a member loan campaign. The board is reaching out to members through focused newsletter articles every month, and tabling in the store. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” Kubani said. He believes Southern California has a lot of untapped potential for cooperation. In addition to their growth, Co-opportunity is working with a startup group in Pasadena and another in South Los Angeles. “It’s an exciting time right now.”

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