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Are you ready for a natural grocer in your community?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 Leave a Comment

By Thomas Spahr, NCCM Board Chair and Bluff Lake Resident

The Northeast Community Co-op Markety has made great strides since incorporating in late July. In just eleven weeks, we have grown to 392 members comprised of residents living in Stapleton, NW Aurora, Park Hill, Lowry, East Colfax, Montclair and beyond. Our team has been diligently finalizing the details of our business plan, building connections and partnerships with other food-based organizations in the Denver metro area, and exploring all opportunities for funding and viable locations. There is clearly enthusiasm and excitement for our project and we feel that we have an outstanding business concept that will meet the needs of our community while growing into a valuable neighborhood resource and institution.

The goal of our “Roots to Reality Fall Membership Drive” is to increase membership to over 850 and share the vision for our community-owned grocery store with a wider segment of the community. Achieving this goal is important so that all options remain on the table moving into next year. In order to open our doors by next fall, we expect that we will need a total of at least 1,500 members. Both of these benchmarks are within reach, we just need the full support of our community, which has repeatedly emphasized the want and desire for a natural grocer. If you or someone you know is on the fence about becoming a member of the food co-op, let me go over a few frequently asked questions with you.

What do I get as a member? Fame. Fortune. Bragging rights that you helped start one of the most innovative grocer concepts in the Denver Metro Area. Well…fame and fortune is probably a stretch, but you will get an ownership share of our co-op, which will help us obtain the capital we need to open. Besides the obvious benefit of finally having a grocery store that reflects the values of our community, our members will get to influence the store concept, vote on the Board of Directors, and down the road may get access to special discounts and end-of-the-year dividend shares that are not
available to non-members.

What is the ROI on my membership? There are many ways you can look at the return on investment for your membership. From a consumer standpoint, yes, you may get money back and savings over time. But there are more immediate ways to view the ROI on membership – I will identify three.

  1. If you are currently driving to Sprouts or Whole Foods once a week, you are likely spending        $100-200 a year on gas alone. Not to mention the additional time spent planning and travelling to these destinations. Regardless of income, time is everyone’s most finite resource. Why not invest in something that will free up more time to do things we enjoy?
  2. A study conducted in 2012 correlates an increase in walk score (see http://www.walkscore.com/) of 1 point into a $700-3,000 increase in property value. The logic is simple: homebuyers are attracted to access to unique, desirable, and walkable amenities. This is why homes prices in Highland, Wash Park, and Congress Park seem to have no ceiling. Since many of us will live within walking distance from the co-op, it is very possible that the co-op will increase our walk scores and affect an increase in our home values (see -http://www.ceosforcities.org/research/walking-the-walk/). Furthermore, every community in Denver can say they have good restaurants, shops and breweries, but we will be the only neighborhood that can tout its own community-owned grocery store.
  3.  A food co-op is a community wealth building strategy. It increases the ability of our community to increase asset ownership, anchor jobs locally, expand the provision of public services, and ensure local economic stability. Corporate chains come and go (Circuit City, anyone?), but a co-op can continue to adapt and address the needs of our community as time changes it, keeping our money and our wealth firmly rooted in our neighborhood. 
Where will the co-op locate? We don’t know yet. We intend to locate somewhere in the area along
Montview or Central Park Blvd. While we love the potential, vision, and alignment of values with the Stanley Marketplace, Flightline Ventures is running against an aggressive timeline for development
that may conflict with our timeline to become adequately capitalized to sign a lease. We are currently
on track, but we have also evaluated other sites and have talked with other developers.

What happens to my money if the co-op never opens? Failure is not an option. Seriously. If Plan A doesn’t work out, we have Plans B-Z ready to go. There is already enough support in our community that we are sure we will be able to open our doors at some point. The better question is:

How soon can we open the doors? This entirely depends on how quickly our community is willing to invest. We have 392 households that have stood up and said “Yes! Let’s do this!” However, we need more members. As members, it is everyone’s responsibility to recruit additional members. Maybe a neighbor is still sitting on the fence. Maybe your friend wants to wait and see what happens down the road before buying in. Maybe someone you know just doesn’t know about the co-op yet. Regardless of excuses, this will not happen unless we can effectively engage our community and
convince others to join us. If you are already a member, share this with your friends, neighbors, community groups, workout buddies and anyone you know that would be interested. If you are not a member, what are you waiting for? You can sign up online at http://www.northeastco-op.org/membership.html. Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NortheastCommunityCoOpMarketCafe Questions? Email thomas@northeastco-op.org