Food co-op still looking for members 0
Brad Kerr presents the costs of membership at the Collingwood Community Food Co-op on Wednesday evening.
After assessing community interest, crunching numbers, looking at location possibilities and contacting producers, the Collingwood Community Food Co-op acting committee has put together a vision.
Now all they need is members - and they need them soon.
The co-op is holding a membership drive until June 29. If they don’t make their target they will have to regroup and decide what their next steps are.
The committee conducted a survey to find out what people wanted in a co-op, to which more than 200 people responded to in a week.
The survey found people wanted a space in downtown Collingwood where they could buy local and organic food.
“Our number one concern was what location we would have,” said committee member Linda Bell who presented the feasibility study. “It’s quite important that it’s in downtown.”
The committee looked at several different options for where to house their co-op. Some were too big, while others required extensive renovation and clean up.
The owners of the 65 Simcoe St. building, Rick and Anke Lex, are currently renovating the space, and offered a discounted price on a retail space in their building.
“Rick and Anke Lex had a vision of a food co-op here,” said Bell. “The proposal is to have it in this building.”
Once deciding on a proposed place, Bell had to estimate costs of incorporation, refrigeration, freezers, shelving, and display units, plus monthly operating costs. Once the co-op can establish these basic set-up costs, they will be able to expand, with hopes of having a kitchen for classes on food preparation and canning.The classes will bring in extra revenue, but will also have extra set-up costs.
To make the co-op possible, the committee is looking for members. Members would pay $100 for what the committee called a refundable loan - it would be paid back if the member left the co-op - and an annual membership fee of $60. For start-up costs, the committee also asked for ‘founding members’ to give a $100 donation.
The food sold at the co-op will have a 25% mark-up, but members would receive 10% off, and founding members will be able to order dry food at a fraction of a cost above wholesale.
By joining the co-op, members will have to volunteer four hours/month, and if unable to do so, will only receive 5% off purchases. People who are interested in joining the co-op but are not able to make the $100 loan will be able to make arrangements with the board. The store will be open to the public, but if a shopper is not a member, they will not receive a discount.
“We want to get the best value for our dollar,” said committee member, Eva Meriorg, who is also chair of the Georgian Bay Food Alliance. “The purpose of the co-op is not for profit.”
Some people at the meeting were skeptical of costs involved in set up. One person suggested an online store to gain capital before moving into a retail store.
The start-up costs are extensive, but the co-op envisions a place where they can bring people of Collingwood fresh, local food year-round.
“Our vision is to actively educate and support our community by offering food that is as local as possible,” said Meriorg.
Quality of food and education around food are areas people seemed most interested in, she said.
“We aren’t looking for cheap food, we’re looking for good food,” said Meriorg.
Collingwood already has an active Farmer’s Market, and the Community Food Co-op is hoping their vision will increase exposure to the vendors at the market.
“We’re hoping as a co-op to raise awareness about locally-grown food, which would benefit the Farmer’s Market,” said Meriorg.
The Collingwood Community Food Co-op’s mission is to “actively support our community with foods and products that are as natural, organic, and local as accessible within a co-operative structure.”
The co-op is accepting memberships until June 29. Membership forms can be found at www.facebook.com/Collingwoodlocalfoodcoop and can be dropped off at the Small Business Enterprise Centre on the third floor of the Collingwood Public Library.