By Brandon Kane,
My opinion is an emphatic “Yes!” The primary reasons that GreenStar should open a store in Collegetown are two-fold:
1. It honors our mission and values:
Serving underserved communities
Our co-op is consistently looking for ways to serve underserved populations in our area. After spending a large part of this year speaking with students and residents while researching this location, I can say without hesitation that Collegetown area residents are not currently having their needs met for natural, nutritious food to support the lifestyle they are committed to, or for easy access to a full-service grocery store. A pedestrian-friendly GreenStar location in the heart of Collegetown offers a unique opportunity to meet this need.
Bettering our community
In my years of residence in Ithaca I have seen a great need to link the Collegetown community with the larger Ithaca community. What better way than through the cooperative business model? Bringing community together is what we are all about. I see a great need for an organization to provide a space where students and residents can come together and take part in the amazing Ithacan experience that is GreenStar. A store in Collegetown will also create more than a dozen Living Wage jobs in our community, a great example for businesses in that area.
Supporting the cooperative business model
There is hardly a better way to support the cooperative model than to establish a co-op in an area that could benefit from its existence. This location will also provide us with the opportunity of outreach and education, such as working with student organizations to hold cooking classes on site. This may lead to more students getting involved in the Co-op at an early age in a myriad of ways, lending their own experiences and energy, which will, in turn, enhance the entire Co-op.
2. It is a solid business decision:
A key to a successful business is to provide a service to a population that is in need of that specific service. With this proposal we have the unique chance to do just that. With the momentum and interest that I have seen from Collegetown residents I can say without doubt that if we do not establish a store in this area, someone will. Even though this location may not have a direct impact on your personal shopping experience, it is in the Co-op’s best interest to strengthen our overall business model to ensure that all of our stores stay open and thrive. I can imagine that many students will go on to become long-term residents of Ithaca and members of our co-op, which will only serve to strengthen our presence in Ithaca for the long haul. 41 years and going stronger than ever!
Financially, we are in a position where we are “cash rich” in terms of the cash we are holding and the debt we are incurring. The timing is right to invest a portion of this cash into a project with low risks and high returns. Our conservative sales projections show that a store in Collegtown could meet current Oasis sales levels by its second year of operations.
Just as importantly, as you can see in the supplemental information available, in an area that has infamously high rental rates our negotiated rent is very reasonable. This is because the owner of the property shares our values and is excited about bringing our successful business model to a community that has stated quite clearly that, “We want GreenStar in Collegetown!” And I am inclined to provide them with it.