By Brandon Kane, General Manager
There’s a lot of buzz about town regarding the proposal to relocate and consolidate the West End campus by late 2019. Since a proposal of this magnitude covers a lot of ground, GreenStar owners, understandably, have many questions. This is one of the reasons that we drafted a feasibility study in an attempt to contextualize the why, when, where, and how of this proposal. If I’ve done my job well, this document and other public posts will answer most questions our owners might have. The feasibility study is available for download from our expansion site at greenstar.coop/growing.
Since even our best work can’t cover everything in our materials, we’re trying to make ourselves as available as possible before and during the owner voting period on this project, March 11 – 31. I urge you to participate in this vote on the expansion project and to educate yourself about the proposal! If you’d like to inquire directly, the best way is to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will promptly reply. We’d also love to have you attend the Special Member Meeting, scheduled for March 16 at The Space, where we plan to specifically present the project and clarify the details of the proposal. Then there’s a Member Feedback Session for this project scheduled for the evening of March 21 at The Space. This meeting will be more of a conversation, with a lot of direct question-and-answer. If you have any questions about GreenStar Growing Forward, please take advantage of the many opportunities to get answers prior to casting your votes.
Now that I’ve gotten the formalities out of the way, I’d like to let you know how excited I am about this project and how fully I support it! GreenStar has been looking to size up our West End store since the early 2000s. We have long outgrown the volume of business at this store. I believe this is one of the factors that has enabled our competition to take a bite into the market. GreenStar has been a community institution since 1971. Since our inception we’ve undergone several iterations and locations. To ensure we stick around for at least another 47 years, we need to make sure we scale up our cooperative business to remain competitive in the current landscape.
That’s why this proposed location and format are so serendipitous. Real estate in Ithaca is infamously limited and restricted. All the factors of size, location, scale, renovation, etc., make this proposal a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, from my perspective. In addition, the new location right off Route 13 South is only 3 ½ blocks away from the present West End store! While a new location may inconvenience some, I’m confident the discomfort will quickly dissipate as our shoppers find the new location to be easily accessible, safe, pedestrian friendly, and big enough to meet everyone’s needs while still offering an intimate community-oriented experience. I envision shoppers finally being able take their time, visit with friends, and generally enjoy the experience of shopping the Co-op, each at their own pace and in their own way. Expanded product lines and services will aim to make GreenStar more of a one-stop shop, lessening the need to go elsewhere.
I feel it’s important to keep in mind that ultimately this expansion is meant for the good of the Co-op and for the good that the Co-op does. My main motivation as General Manager is to ensure the viability and relevance of our cooperative for future generations. Our Collegetown and DeWitt stores are doing well as supporting locations. DeWitt exceeded $2.8 million in sales in 2017, while Collegetown surpassed $2 million in its first full year. Still, the overwhelming volume of sales is derived from the West End, which took in $17.4 million in 2017. We need to ensure that our flagship operation remains fiscally healthy to support the health of GreenStar in its entirely. The limitations of our current location, including the expense of operating this relatively small site, will begin to harm our business health in the next few years if we don’t scale up to our potential. It just so happens that we have a unique opportunity to do this very thing. Because our research and due diligence in studying this opportunity thoroughly back up our strong sense that it’s a chance not to be missed, I invite you to chime in with your vote.
Thank you for your continued support as a GreenStar owner. Your participation in our co-op is critical for us to keep modeling the change we all want to see in the world.