Realizing the vision of the Co-op’s Ends Statements: more local, organic, sustainable food; a stronger local economy; and a diverse, inclusive community.

By Brandon Kane, GreenStar General Manager

The excitement never stops at GreenStar — and I suppose it’s a good thing to have this continual momentum of our cooperative as we head into GreenStar Growing Forward. But before I address this year’s goals for the Co-op, a quick recap of 2017 is in order. Combined sales across all locations totaled about $22.4 million in 2017, with the West End reaching $17.4 million, DeWitt $2.8 million, Collegetown $2 million (in its first full year!), and Catering and Space rentals closing the gap with about $180,000 in sales on top of their $2.4 million worth of production internally for our stores!

The trend of low co-op growth in the US continued throughout 2017, as competitors came at us intensely in all trade areas. East-coast co-ops averaged 2.2-percent growth in total over the past year. GreenStar’s growth in 2017 was 7.31 percent, which figure includes the additional sales from our first full year of operating Collegetown. An apples-to-apples comparison — done by removing the added Collegetown sales — puts our co-op’s growth over the prior year at 2 percent, smack on the average I mentioned above.

Patronage refunds passed in 2017! With the passage of patronage refunds, we established a critical link between our co-op owners and the success of the business. Now, when GreenStar has a successful year, it can distribute a bonus to our shopping owners based on their financial support of the Co-op throughout that year.

Are you aware that your support of GreenStar had massive impact on the local economy in 2017? About 20 percent of total sales went directly to the wages of GreenStar staff. This equals about 144 full-time jobs supported by the Co-op. About 26 percent of sales went to companies owned and operated within 100 miles of Ithaca. That’s $5.8 million in sales to local businesses in 2017 alone!

All these amazing outcomes are at the core of GreenStar Growing Forward. This includes the big topic lately of expanding and consolidating our West End operations to 770 Cascadilla Street by early 2020. The Board of Directors has scheduled a special meeting in March to address all things related to making this expansion happen, as well as a vote for owners.

The vote in March will focus on two things. The first is amending our bylaws and certificate of incorporation to allow for our owners to purchase investment shares. We’d like to make this possible since cooperatives are not funded by private equity, and we must therefore rely on our owners to invest in the growth of their cooperative. The second vote is for the expansion and relocation itself. Basically, you’ll be asked if we should pack up our store, warehouse, kitchen, and the Space to move all of these under one roof. While most functions will stay the same, the retail store itself will nearly triple in size, and parking will nearly double. This growth will mean that the future store will be intimate but adequately sized for expanded aisle width, product lines, and services to our shoppers.

The voting period is outside of our normal summer and spring schedules because this timing is necessary in order to meet our construction deadline of the end of 2019. The Special Member Meeting, scheduled for March 16, will focus on the details of these expansion-related votes and be open to an extended question-and-answer period as well.

Assuming you vote in favor of these initiatives and we move forward with our expansion timeline, we will then have a series of feedback sessions on the design and functions of the new cooperative location. Look for more details to be published soon so you can make the most informed decision possible. As owners of GreenStar, we all have the power to make this happen. I encourage everyone to get out the vote on this! Thank you for your continued support of your local co-op!