The entry way of our proposed new West End store, image courtesy STREAM Collaborative.

Question 1: Should GreenStar’s Council be authorized to relocate the Co-op’s West End store and operations to 770 Cascadilla Street and enter into a lease for that site, and shall Council be authorized to sell the cooperative’s operations at 700 & 702 W. Buffalo Street?

By Laura Buttenbaum, GreenStar Board member and Governance Committee Chair

Since our seedling days in the late 1960s & early 70s, when our founding owners decided that ”we can build & control our own institution,” the organization that is now GreenStar Natural Foods Co-op has worked tirelessly to do what co-ops are designed to do: meet our own needs and serve our community. Throughout its history, as the needs of owners and the community have changed and increased, GreenStar has needed to adapt, grow, and evolve to stay effective in its function. As Brandon and Patrice clearly outline in their joint statement in the special vote mailing, the time to address our growing owners’ varied needs is now, while there is a sustainable, viable opportunity before us.

While the most obvious common need GreenStar owners share is access to clean, affordable, ethical, and local foods, over time we have identified other crucial needs: community, fairness, education, sustainability, cooperation, and local, democratic control, which are all essential to our purpose. If GreenStar is to continue to make important strides in meeting these needs, it is clear that we need to address the limitations of our West End retail and administrative locations.

From its origins as a bulk buying club located in a basement, to the “Grainstore” in 1977 (where coolers were first used), to the eight-block-long “Human Chain” that moved inventory to the Farm Street location in 1984, and then the necessary owner decision to relocate in 1992, after that storefront was burned to the ground, to the building our West End store currently occupies (which nearly 95 percent of owners approved) —  GreenStar’s retail operations have grown with each relocation. Four short years after relocating to our present store, our Board acknowledged the need to explore expansion options, which resulted in the 2004 purchase of GreenStar DeWitt, the 2006 rental of the warehouse building (which owners voted to purchase in 2010 and which was renovated to house the Central Kitchen and The Space @ GreenStar in 2013), and, most recently, the 2012 vote to open a store in Collegetown, which was realized in 2017.

All of these moments of growth were approved by owner votes, as it is a fundamental right (and responsibility) of GreenStar owners to vote on transactions involving real property. We find ourselves at such a moment today. We, as the collective owners of this cooperative business, bear the responsibility to make decisions that ensure the financial and operational success of our business so that we can better meet our needs and the needs of our community. In the changing face of the retail world, specifically as it relates to the natural foods market, to choose stagnation over growth at this time is to choose inefficiency, increased costs, and certain loss. I hope you will join us in realizing the importance of growing forward.

Voting takes place from March 11 – 31. For more information about the Special Vote 2018 click here or attend these upcoming events: 

Special MeetingMeeting AgendaMember Feedback Session