FAQ

A cooperative is a group of people who work together for economic benefit. Food Shed Co-op will be a full service grocery store voluntarily owned and controlled by those our Owners, who have purchased equity shares in the co-op; Co-ops are democratically governed; Co-ops are businesses, not clubs or associations; Co-ops adhere to internationally recognized principles.

We are looking at locations in both Crystal Lake and Woodstock. The map below shows the target area that was defined in the USDA grant funded market study conducted in late 2014 by CDS consultants, who are experts in the field of cooperative and natural foods grocery stores.

Click Image to enlarge map

1. Market Study Data: The Food Shed Co-op was awarded a USDA grant which we used to fund a market study in late 2014. CDS consultants, experts in the field of cooperative and natural foods grocery stores, conducted a thorough study to pinpoint the ideal location, estimate sales volume, and recommended square footage for the store based on the demographic characteristics of the area and the existing competitive environment.

2. Financial Pro Forma: The financial impact of the location decision will effect the cooperative's finances for many years, therefor finances weigh heavily in the selection criteria. All of the factors examined in the market study inform the financial feasibility of our cooperative. Financial modeling will be further influenced by market dynamics, local government incentives, landlord concessions, grants and many other expenses. As a part of the USDA grant, the CDS consultants also prepared a financial pro forma. We will use the pro forma to gauge the degree of opportunity for financial success in potential locations.

3. Owner Input: We will also conduct a series of surveys (owners, watch your inboxes!) to collect information about what store location characteristics will best serve our owners.

We will begin by conducting a very thorough canvass of possible sites in the community. Data on possible sites is collected, then potential properties are vetted to determine if they meet our basic criteria (as defined by the market study).

If a site meets the preliminary specifications, the next step will be to determine sales potential for the site. Typically, a second professional market study will be conducted to estimate sales volume based on the demographic characteristics of the area and the existing competitive environment.

After the sales volume has been estimated a comprehensive financial analysis will be conducted, using the financial pro forma to compare estimated sales revenues with total project costs, including renovation, occupancy costs, and operational expenses.

In the final step the owner-elected Board of Directors will weigh all the data to make a final location decision on behalf of the owners we serve.

Here are two reasons from the experts at Food Co-op Initiative*:

1. Building owners have been known to suddenly increase the prices after they find out that the co-op is interested in their site.

2. A competitor, once they know that the site is suitable for a natural foods store, may beat us to the punch and open a store in our desired location before we can.

*Food Co-op Initiative is a 501(c)3 non-profit, whose mission it is to enable a faster and more efficient start-up process for new retail grocery co-ops.

The opening date will be determined by a number of factors. The most important factor at this stage in our development is how quickly we add to our ownership base and increase capital.

The faster we are able to grow our ownership numbers, the more quickly we will be able to open the doors of our community-owned grocery store.

Click the image below to view our timeline. Our milestones and the amount of time we expect it will take us to reach each milestone were provided by Food Co-op Initiative, a 501(c)3 non-profit, whose mission it is to enable a faster and more efficient start-up process for new retail grocery co-ops.

Cooperatives are owned by members of the community they serve and governed democratically. They have a triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. The chart below illustrates how co-ops differ from conventional grocers.

Food Shed Co-op is a community owned grocery store. Like a buying club, you will be able to buy what you want at the cooperative, but there will be no strict pick-up times and you will not need to buy in bulk. Owners and non-Owners will be welcome to shop at Food Shed.

Anything the owners want and will support. Your choices will not be dictated by corporate management that are not living in your community and only focused on profit. Typically, co-ops stock a lot of local, natural, organic and bulk foods and also offer natural hygiene products (like soap and shampoo).

Not necessarily. Co-ops usually have a lower overhead than most grocery stores and offer the capacity to buy in bulk, which can actually lead to lower prices. Some organic or other specialty foods are inherently more expensive, but owners can choose to stock and offer lower cost options as well. Co-ops strive to build community and as such are not always the lowest cost available compared to low cost chain stores which are often damaging to communities and ultimately have a higher cost to local communities.

No! Everyone is welcome to shop at the co-op! Owners will receive the added benefits of patronage dividends and the right to get a vote in affairs of the cooperative. The co-op Board (which will be made up of and elected by Owners) will decide, as the co-op matures, what the differences and benefits will be regarding Owners and non-Owners. It is likely that, in addition to patronage dividends, Owners will be eligible for special offers and discount.

We can’t move ahead without commitment from our owners. We need you to join BEFORE we open our community-owned grocery store.

Our founding owners share the vision and have and demonstrated faith and confidence in our community’s ability to make this happen. Even without an actual store where you can shop (yet!), founding owners are willing to make a tangible investment in bringing this valuable asset to our community, and we thank you for that. To recognize the important role our founding owners play in the development of the Food Shed Co-op, their names will be forever noted on a plaque in the store.

Any adult (18 years and older) that resides in Illinois or Wisconsin! Ownership can be used by any adult in your household. However, multiple Owners within one household are permitted and encouraged. Each individual adult Owner gets one vote. Please see our Ownership Page for more information.

  • You get a “Vote” in the affairs of the Cooperative, including elections of Owners to the Board of Directors
  • You can run for the Board
  • You will receive patronage dividends based on your purchases

The votes of our Owners will set the direction for Food Shed Co-op far into the future: our values, our goals, Owner benefits, and the products, programs, and services that will be offered. So even though the store isn't open YET, today’s Owners will be making key decisions — you want to be part of that!

Ownership stock purchases will be used as start up capital and later to fund store operations and improvements. Cooperatives are funded by their Owners' stock purchases, Owner loans and potentially traditional bank loans. Once the store opens and is successful, Owners who no longer want to be Owners will have the opportunity, at the Board's discretion and per the bylaws, to sell back shares, less a small administrative fee.

Yes! If you would like to become an Owner at the Founding Owner level we do have a payment plan option. It is one payment of $30 followed by 9 $20 monthly payments. The payments can be processed via our Donate page and all payments will be credited towards your ownership. Complete Ownership information as well as all options for payment are detailed here.

At the Food Shed Co-op we believe that everyone deserves access to healthy, high quality food and products. To that end we have created a Financial Assistance Fund that is available to qualified applicants.

Our Food Shed Co-op Financial Assistance Owner Application

Please fill out the Online Form or email us at info@foodshed.coop

No! Ownership is a one-time purchase. You are an Owner for life! There are no yearly dues or fees. You always have the option to buy more Ownership shares up to the maximum, which is ten shares.

No, modern food co-ops operate as regular businesses with paid employees. There are opportunities now and prior to the store opening to volunteer to assist with various tasks but not required, becoming an Owner helping to build capital is the more important step!

That is not determined yet but other regional co-ops can provide a template for what you can expect. Here are some examples:

Willy Street Coop in Madison WI http://www.willystreet.coop/join/owner-rights-and-benefits

Dill Pickle in Chicago http://dillpickle.coop/join/

Currently the vision and mission is to offer significantly more organic, natural, clearly labeled, local food choices far beyond typical grocery stores. The Owners will help to determine the products sold via purchases, feedback to the General Manager and voting power to elect the Board of Directors.

What about tropical fruits for example?

The intention is to source as many food products as locally as possible yet still provide a full selection of food comparable to a full service grocery store. Products, farmers and distributors will be selected as ethically as possible to fulfill the requirements from the owners. Ultimately all the products will be decided via feedback and purchasing power from the Owners.

The Food Shed Co-op offers healthy food choices and the benefits of cooperation to grow a vibrant local community and more eco-friendly world. We collaborate with local farmers and suppliers to enable healthy choices by bringing sustainable products, services and education to our community.

Yes! There are many co-ops in IL. Some are open for business and many are organizing (just like we are).