Total number of non-duplicated responses: 125 (26% of respondents invested and 7% donated during the capital campaign)
How respondents answered questions:
People who want a food co-op and expressed ideas about next steps want a storefront, a place to shop. For certain respondents, any effort that was not an effort for a storefront could not expect significant owner investment.
People would shop at a small storefront with very limited offerings.
People want (and expect) the Co-op to have a viable business right now that grows into something larger and, did not expect a food co-op in Silverton to successfully follow an FCI model of growing membership and then launching a full grocery store from owner capital. These respondents did not expect anyone to invest money in an idea; they would only invest in something that already existed (a business that they patronized) and wanted to grow to something larger.
People want a tangible benefit to their membership, as in a place to shop for local food, more often than once a week, at the farmer's market.
Our Co-op has reached a turning point. Following the 2020 Capital Campaign, the Board of Directors has analyzed campaign results, met with investors, held a meeting for all owners, put out a survey and reviewed survey responses, and met a total of six times over the past six weeks. We have learned through our careful analysis that our prospects are poor to secure the funds needed from our owners this year to open our store. We’ve also learned from those of you who participated in recent discussions and surveys, that the majority of our owners would prefer to postpone the store project, return funds to those who invested, and pursue an interim activity that benefits members of the Co-op.
During our board meeting earlier this week, we made the decision to terminate our securities offering before its scheduled expiration and return funds to lenders. If you signed a loan agreement in 2019 or 2020, your loan investment will be returned to you later this month by mail directly from the escrow agent, Santiam Escrow. Donations raised during the Capital Campaign will be put towards the next phase of the Co-op unless the donor requests a refund. Some donors have already told us they support the continued efforts of the Co-op and want their donation to remain with the Co-op—thank you! If you made a donation to the Capital Campaign between October 1, 2020, and November 23, 2020, and you would like a refund, send an email to email@example.com by March 10, 2021. Refunds will be made by the method your donation was made, card or check, and only your request is received by March 10, 2021.
This was not an easy decision and we share your disappointment. Since 2017, Silverton Food Co-op has been following a development model for startup food co-ops created by Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) to open a $1.6 million community-owned grocery store. We had reached a point in that model last year when it was time to move forward with raising the funds needed to open our store. Our board and volunteers worked tirelessly to reach owners and make that ask. And despite numerous hurdles—wildfires, pandemic, economic and personal loss—our Co-op did raise a substantial amount of money. But it wasn’t anywhere close to our goal.
We have an opportunity now to take a step back to reconsider how we can provide a unique benefit to our owners and the entire community. Being an owner of Silverton Food Co-op has always been about more than just opening a store. It’s always been about providing equitable access to fresh, healthy foods and educational opportunities, supporting local food producers, engaging with local businesses and nonprofits, and working for the sustainable development of our community. And while a storefront may still be in our future down the road, we are a cooperatively owned and controlled organization that has the potential to do so much more.
So, let’s cooperate! We’re going to shake things up a bit, launch some new projects, and take a breath after what has been one wild ride of a year. We are so grateful to be on this journey with such wonderful owners like you. Onward!
Kelly Hilton, Cayla Catino, Marc van Anda, Flora Guiterrez, Becky Gilliam, Micole Olivas-Leyva