Many co-ops find themselves the victims of too much success. They are bursting at the seams as memberships and sales increase, an expanding inventory demands more shelf space and the parking lot is beyond capacity. How co-ops manage growth issues is a key indicator of their future sustainability and prosperity.
Co-ops contemplating a store expansion or relocation have turned to CDS for expert advice and consultation. We provide a wide array of expansion feasibility and planning services. Our consultants have provided co-ops with critical market analysis, sales forecasts and location and site analysis to make informed decisions about their store’s operations at both current and possible future locations.
Larrane Hartridge, General Manager of New Leaf Market in Tallahassee, Florida, donned one of her three hard hats as the construction work for the store expansion got underway on the other side of the wall from her office. Based on market research and analysis done by CDS, her co-op decided that the best location for expansion was literally right next door. Pete Davis conducted two studies for New Leaf Market. “These were invaluable studies both for considering a possible second location and for creating a marketing plan,” said Larrane. She also used the study data for targeting new members and to inform the membership. ”Everybody should have one of these studies,” she said.
Moving from the Sunshine State to Buffalo, New York, theLexington Co-op turned to objective information to guide their decision to move from a 1,200 square foot store on a side street to a 5,000 square foot store on the main street. “Our gut told us it was the right thing to do, but we needed a professional opinion to find a location where the market was strongest,” voiced Tim Bartlett, General Manager. The study gave them hard data on the three potential sites they were considering early in the site relocation process. “It was very useful in guiding our site search,” said Tim. “We believed in it.” The co-op used the study results in a number of ways including to support financial information to take to the bank, to inform and educate the board of directors and membership, marketing, and to ultimately choose the new store location.
Mississippi Market in St. Paul, Minnesota currently has two stores and is analyzing how to move its smaller store to a new and better site. “Since the stores are in rather close proximity to each other, learning the boundaries of their trade areas was important and necessary information to have. CDS provided the co-op with the boundary details and that proved useful to educate me and the board of directors in all of the aspects of a possible store move,” said Gail Graham, General Manager.
Along with informing a major undertaking like an expansion or the creation of a new store, detailed market data is useful in the ongoing strategic planning of a retail food co-op. The Davis Food Co-op regularly uses professional market assessments to track the marketplace, changes in demographics and competition. When recently faced with a Trader Joe’s store moving into their market, a market study developed by CDS helped them predict its potential impact on the cooperative. “My CFO says that every time we have a market study presentation, it’s like getting a college education,” said Eric Stomberg, the General Manager. “It’s so informative.”
Whether a co-op is taking on a major competitor down the block or trying to manage the effects of burgeoning sales on its current location, employees and infrastructure, the need for professional advice backed by real numbers is essential. Food co-ops have found the need for expertise to guide them along the way.