By Brandon Kane, General Manager
I’ve come to realize over the years that cooperation and cooperatives are addictive. Although grocery cooperatives are usually similar to one another in many respects (product line, typical departments), each store is imbued with that region’s history and culture, making it a quintessential representation of its community. The local culture reflected in co-ops draws us in and makes us long to see more.
I know many co-op enthusiasts (myself included) who seek out the local co-op grocer whenever traveling because it feels like visiting a family member — not quite home but somehow familiar. I often receive emails from this variety of traveler stating that they recently visited GreenStar for the first time and consider it to be one of the top food cooperatives in the country. These thoughtful notes fill me with pride for what we’ve built together as a community and what is yet to come. The objective nature of these emails is a reminder that the spirit of our co-op is alive and well and continues to draw people in to join in the cooperation.
Cooperation not only feels like the right thing to do, but it has clearly demonstrable metrics and outcomes. Apparently, the majority of residents in our region agree because membership in GreenStar continues to grow. Our co-op has more than 12,500 members, adding more than 650 new names to its roster in 2018 alone!
Consider the collective impact this many people can have on their community. Twelve thousand member-owners shopping at our stores results in almost $6 million per year in revenue for local food and goods producers. Take this personally! Your support has created the Space, where dozens of critical community dialogues have taken place to better our community. Together, through joint support of our co-op, we’ve created an engine that drives us forward in a multitude of ways. I like to view GreenStar as an economic engine that produces beneficial outcomes for our society. It’s easy to demonstrate that, as this engine grows, so do the positive impacts.
We stand on the verge of a historical level of growth for our co-op with the imminent expansion and relocation of our West End store in 2020. This resizing of GreenStar will increase the benefits produced for our community. We expect sales to local farms and business to reach $8 million by 2021. Our plan calls for adding forty full-time-equivalent jobs at a living wage and tackling tough energy questions in a quest to make the most sustainable energy choices feasible for our new home.
Many of our design and planning choices come down to a matter of what we can or cannot afford prior to moving in to this renovated location. Luckily, herein lies the beautiful — and cooperative — solution to this financial dilemma. I’ve illustrated a bit of how each of our present contributions to the Co-op as individuals result in a massive collective impact. In much the same way, we’re asking our owners to contribute to GreenStar’s Capital Campaign. This is about the fundamental concept of cooperation, which involves pooling our resources to accomplish something greater than the sum of what we each pitch in. Our Capital Campaign is about giving GreenStar a new home where we can have a more wide-reaching impact on our community for decades to come.
Through this campaign, GreenStar members residing in New York State have the opportunity to invest in our growth and, potentially, to receive highly competitive dividends in exchange for their investment as well. This is where the collective magic lies. The more owners invest, the more likely it is that we can implement the best possible choices from the start. For example, on a tight budget, we may have to consider gas-fired heating units for the store until we can build the capital up to replace these with much more sustainable (and expensive) heat pump units. If we start to surpass our owner investment goals, we can then consider upgrades such as heat pumps from the start. This is the power of individuals cooperatively contributing to a cause.
I hope I’ve made a compelling case for owner-member financial support of our expansion project. If I’ve enticed you to seek out more information on this subject, it’s as simple as visiting here.
Thank you so sincerely for your support of GreenStar Growing Forward!