Reflections on Our Long, Strange (yet Educational) Trip
After celebrating our fourth birthday on Earth Day, we’ve been reflecting on our journey to open the doors of our community-owned grocery store. It’s certainly been a long, strange trip, but we’ve learned a lot along the way. Throughout this process, our dedicated co-op leaders have been educating themselves by attending national conferences and by regularly communicating with co-op leadership groups and consultants to make sure we’re following best practices in grocery retail management, human resources, finance, technology, marketing, real estate, and more. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. We’re learning from the successes (and failures) of many the food co-ops who have come before us.
Why is it Taking So Long to Open the Store?
Many of you have asked us why it’s taking so long to find a location. The short answer is that there are simply not that many existing sites that meet our criteria in terms of size and affordability. We want to open a store that is built to last. So, for those of you who are frustrated that the Food Shed Co-op is not yet open, know that we share your frustration. I can tell you that positive things are happening, and we are continuing to make progress. We are following a plan that has worked for others who have successfully gone before us. This takes a large investment of time, but it will ensure our success.
Help Us Keep Moving
To keep us moving toward our goal, we need your help. The easiest way you can help is to spread the word and get your friends, family, and neighbors to become owners. No matter where we are in our journey, we need more owners! Though we haven’t opened our store yet, we are an active business in our community, hosting engaging events and participating in awesome community gatherings. If you know of events where we should have a presence, let us know. Last but not least, we’re always in need of your skills and talents to help us keep moving forward. Come to one of our Volunteer Trainings this month (details below) or check our volunteer “wish list” for ways you can get involved.
The journey may be long, but I know the wait will be worthwhile. And with a strong community supporting our cooperative, we’ll have a lot more fun along the way.
Add your reaction
We recently shared some thoughts from a Michigan farmer on our Facebook page, describing the harsh conditions that drive many farmers out of business. It clearly struck a chord with many of our supporters. Over 1,200 people have t read it so far. It captures so many of the reasons we are motivated to bring a co-op to McHenry County, so we feel compelled to share it again here to make sure no one misses out on this powerful message. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it.
This story is all too common for small farmers, but we don't think it has to be the case where we live. Grocery co-ops are uniquely positioned to provide a stable market for local farmers and food artisans. No, we probably won't match prices of $1.50 for a gallon of milk, but we can offer a fair price for the food produced by hard-working local families—people you know and can trust to produce healthy, fresh, delicious food.
Do you want to help protect local farms in your community? Let's get a grocery store open that is committed to making it easier for you to buy local food from local farms. Become a Food Shed Co-op owner and help make it happen.
The cold winter months may force many people into hibernation mode, but our Board has been busy looking at locations throughout our target area. Negotiations are proceeding with some locations that show great potential, so stay tuned!
Remember that owners will be the first to hear the good news! The time to say you were an owner before you even knew where the store would be is rapidly running out, so make your support of Food Shed Co-op “official” and join us!