By Brandon Kane, General Manager

Happy spring, fellow cooperators! I have much to share regarding where we’re headed, but first, let’s take a look back on 2018. We recently received the results of our annual audit, which affords me the opportunity to review a few key components of GreenStar’s performance last year. This provides background to better understand where we stand in our present operating year and expansion project.

GreenStar’s 2018 gross sales exceeded $22.6 million, which represents about 2 percent over the previous year’s sales. With West End sales comprising over 75 percent of our revenue while we feel the ever-growing pressure from the need to expand, it’s no surprise that overall sales growth has plateaued for the time being.

Back in 2017, when we drafted our 2018 budget, we brazenly thought we could continue to overcome the retail bottleneck of the West End store in its current location and still produce sales growth. In retrospect, that was simply not feasible. Although a 2-percent growth is consistent with the national cooperative average for this time period, our submitted budget projected 4.8 percent. As a result, our overall sales were about $560k under budget. Sound discouraging? Now for the impressive part: Through the concerted effort of our dedicated staff, we closely managed our expenses enough to produce a net income loss of only $16k. This is an excellent performance (good save!) considering the inefficiencies of our current main campus and the out-of-the-ordinary expenses related to our expansion project. It should be noted that we also anticipate and are prepared to absorb a net income loss in 2020/2021 due to further cash outlay for the expansion. After that, we can expect a steady increase in growth and income from 2022 on.

Our cash position in 2018 increased dramatically from $1 million to $1.78 million, including about $500k from owner investments. Other key metrics were well within compliance standards and affirm that GreenStar is in a strong position to invest in its future growth.

Good thing, since investing in our future is exactly what we’re in the middle of doing full-force! As I write this article, we’ve collected over $600k in owner investments. We’re right on-track to reach our June goal of $1.5 million. We’ve secured a $400k loan from the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency and are negotiating the fine points of our $2.3 million equipment loan for the new store. At this point, all that remains is closing that $900k gap on our Owner Investment Campaign. That’s where you come in. This project is truly a community effort and we need your support to make it happen. To learn more about our Owner Investment Program, please email capital@greenstar.coop.

As of mid-April, the former warehouse that stood in the site of our future parking lot has been taken down. The adjacent warehouse that will be our new home has been gutted and is steadily being remodeled per our specifications. We’re on schedule to open our doors for business as of late March 2020.

Of course, we can hardly wait to work and shop in a gorgeous and innovative building! That goes without saying. But there is something much more critical we must all understand about the outcome of GreenStar’s growth. The cooperative business model is an oasis of authenticity in an ocean of superficially branded corporations.

When you choose to invest in GreenStar, you become part of a robust business that accomplishes a number of things on a local scale:
• It supports more than 270 local farms and vendors through more than $6 million annually in sales of local goods
• It derives nearly 100 percent of its electricity supply from a local solar farm
• It strives to become an ever more equitable and inclusive member of our community
• It employs more than 200 people earning industry-leading wages

On a national scale, GreenStar contributes to the National Co-op Grocers, which has accomplished the following things (among others):
• Since 2012, it has planted two million trees as a carbon offset to its collective operations
• It has financed over $9 million for the expansion of co-op grocery stores through its cooperative development fund
• It has generated over $65 million in sales of certified organic products in 2018 alone

Thanks for reading. I so appreciate all the support you give to GreenStar.