Sales have tripled in recent years at the Tidal Creek Co-op in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the co-op has been looking into expanding and decided to commission a market study. In addition to the usual reasons for having a market study, the board at Tidal Creek also wanted to the use the study to educate themselves about their market and community in order to make the best decision for the co-op’s growth.
Anthony Garguilo is board president at the co-op, and he said that in the past the board got sidetracked when it didn’t heed the results of a market study that had been done seven years ago. The outcome was that the co-op opened a bakery that ended up losing money and had to be closed. The current board is determined to not let that happen again. Now, Garguilo said, they are using the market study as a reality check to focus the co-op’s goals. One of the challenges they face as a co-op is to balance their members aspirations for community service within the context of economic sustainability.
“It’s always fun to say we want this or that, but we need to be able to provide the entire organization achievable goals,” he said. The data from the market study enabled them to do this by focusing on their trade area and the concentration of their current owners. “The market study and related data allowed us to draw boundaries around dreaming and planning. The data gave us hard data about where we stand today, but also an idea for where it’s realistic to go in visioning for the future,” Garguilo said. “We can confidently say we’ll start here, and then look at the next step.”
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