Earlier this spring we sent out a survey to all owners, asking for your feedback on Silverton Food Co-op owner engagement, cooperative principles and top priorities in the community. Thank you to the 145 owners who responded, your input is greatly appreciated!
We've compiled the owner survey results and we've shared some of the highlights with our SFC community, here are just a few:
I am interested in investing in the Co-op - where do I start?
A number of our owners indicated they want more information on how to contribute or invest in the owner loan campaign. Our Capital Campaign is up and running! This is the campaign that raises money to open our store. As part of our Capital Campaign to raise the $1.5 million we'll need to open our community-owned grocery store, we will raise up to $800,000 in interest bearing loans from our member-owners. We are seeking loans of $2,000 and up from Co-op member-owners who have already purchased a full share of common stock. You will be hearing more about our Capital Campaign in the upcoming months as we prepare to launch a formal campaign, but you can get started today by visiting our Capital Campaign website!
ARE WE SETTING OUR SIGHTS TOO HIGH?
We heard concern from some of our owners, related to the pandemic or otherwise, that $800K may be too lofty of a goal. In July 2017 G2G Research Group performed a professional market study that analyzed our market area, demographics, and the sales potential of a co-op food store in Silverton. The study advised us that we could support only a small store, one with about 2,500 sq. ft. of sales area. (The average co-op grocery is about 6,500 sq. ft. in sales area, which is typically 60-65% of the total building's area; Life Source in Salem (a natural food store, but not a co-op) has 6,500 sq. ft. in sales area.)
In December 2018, we updated the market study's sales forecasts in anticipation of delivering a letter of intent to rent the 600 N. Water St. property, a location whose size was consistent with the 2017 market analysis. These updated sales forecasts are the basis for our business plan's 10-year financials, the projections for expenses, revenue, and the service of debt. These projections informed the approval of our securities registration for our owner loan offering. These projections call for $1.5 million in start-up capital to build out a site, to hire employees, to purchase equipment, fixtures and product, and to operate with sustainable cash flow in our early years. We intend to raise more than half of our start-up capital from our owners.
Why don’t we just open a smaller store?
We plan to open a small store, compared to what is typical for co-op grocery stores. We are relying on a professional analysis of Silverton's market for a potential co-op food store and the financial recommendations of consultants experienced in start-up food co-ops. Our market study says we have the best chance of success in Silverton if we open a relatively small store, 4,000 total sq. ft. with about 2,500 sq. ft. of sales area. The average co-op grocery store has 6,500 sq. ft. of sales area.
I need more information! What is the Silverton Food Co-Op doing to improve communication with owners and the greater community?
Your Silverton Board of Directors is committed to transparency and consistent communication with our owners! Our Outreach and Marketing Committees are meeting regularly to improve how we get the word out on important updates, and listen to community needs and wants. We heard from the owner survey that most owners get Silverton Food Co-op information from the Co-op newsletter. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates from your SFC Board and community! And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!
I want to get more involved! How do I plug in?
The Silverton Food Co-op is gearing up to raise the funds to open our store and that takes 100% participation from all of our owners! That can be in the form of a member loan, monetary donation, or a donation of time. Every hour you volunteer you send a message that says, "I believe in the power of community and cooperation." Together, we can prepare our economy and community for a brighter future. Ready to dive in? Visit our volunteer page for more info!