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Food Co-op Seeks Owners

The Food Shed Co-op seeks owners and volunteers to continue momentum toward a new grocery store.

McHenry County has a very active and growing food co-op called Food Shed Co-op, almost 600 owners strong. If you’re unfamiliar with a food co-op, think of it as a year-round, indoor farmers market where quality control and decision-making is in the hands of consumer-owners instead of corporations.

The Food Shed  is looking ahead to the next steps it will be taking as it works to secure a future grocery store consistent with the target location in its market study.

OWNERS, VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

Funding required to open the grocery store depends on a critical mass of owners, and 800 owners is the next goal. “We need everybody who is interested and able to purchase a minimum of two shares to become an owner and help us cross the finish line and get the store open,” said Scott T. Brix, Food Shed president.

Word of mouth to grow ownership is essential, explained Laura Ehrman, community coordinator for Food Shed. “We need everyone to continue to spread the word and introduce us to new audiences,” she said. “Invite us to present at your office, church, home, business, festival, class, book club, garden club, wine club, etc. We’re happy to come to just about anywhere we can meet new people and share our mission.”

The co-op is also looking for volunteers in some very specific roles. Contact Mike Biver to get involved.

OWNER LOAN CAMPAIGN

Co-ops across the country are using owner loan campaigns, a tried-and-tested process to raise the funds necessary to capitalize their stores.

“When we approach banks to provide funding for our future home, they will want to see evidence of community support through grants we receive, the number of owners we have, equity from shares we sell and capital provided by owner loans,” Ehrman explained. “The owner loan campaign will be an opportunity for our owners to invest in something tangible that they believe in, i.e., a grocery store that promotes healthy locally grown food.”

Other co-ops have experienced great results with owner loans. “Our friends at Common Ground Co-op in Urbana raised over $1 million in a 10-week campaign to expand their store,” she said. “Green Top Grocery in Bloomington-Normal raised $1.3 million in a two-phase campaign to fully fund their store earlier this year. It will be a challenging, all-hands-on-deck process, but we’re confident we will follow in the footsteps of these successful co-ops to get our doors open.”

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