Fredericksburg Food Cooperative Launches Member Study amid Substantial Membership Growth
Fredericksburg, Virginia – The Fredericksburg Food Co-op grew substantially in 2016 – beginning the year with 41 member-owners and ending with 315. The co-op had set a goal of 300 member-owners by year’s end. Each membership represents a local household, business or other entity. Fredericksburg Food Co-op director and current board chair Rich Larochelle said "We are delighted to see more and more people embrace the co-op approach of creating a member-owned grocery story focused on natural, healthy and local products. We are grateful for the strong support we are receiving from so many in Fredericksburg and surrounding communities.”
Larochelle said “The 300 member mark was important to us because that is the level at which it is generally recommended that food co-ops take the important next step of launching a formal market study. That study – together with other analyses – creates a “blueprint” for the future development of the co-op.” Anticipating the achievement of the 300 member goal, the co-op board awarded a contract in November to a national co-op expert who is part of the CDS Consulting Cooperative (CDSCC). The work of CDSCC begins this month here in Fredericksburg and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2017. The CDSCC market study will employ a proprietary data base developed specifically for natural foods cooperatives and will evaluate the local market area from several perspectives and provide a multi-year sales forecast.
A portion of the funds required for the market study are being provided through a grant awarded in 2016 to the Fredericksburg Food Cooperative by the Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) - a national non-profit organization devoted to helping startup food co-ops. In awarding that grant, FCI Executive Director Stuart Reid said, “The public interest in food co-ops is at an all-time high. By owning and controlling their own cooperative store, communities are able to ensure stable access to healthy food, provide meaningful jobs, and support local producers. Food co-ops can become both an economic anchor and a social hub for the community.” Award winners were selected based on the strength of their leadership, quality of business planning, potential for successful operations, and potential impact made by the grant funds. Dozens of food co-ops across the country applied for the grant and the Fredericksburg Food Co-op was one of twelve food co-ops awarded this money.
The Fredericksburg Food Co-op was incorporated in September 2015. It will be a full service member-owned grocery store with a special focus on local foods, natural and organic products and sustainable environmental practices. We will help to strengthen the connection between local farmers and co-op members. The co-op will collaborate with others in our community to share best practices on nutrition, wellness and the strong connection between diet and health. As a member-owned co-op, decisions will be made to maximize service to members and the community. We will be more than just another place to shop. We aim to become both an economic anchor and a social hub for the community.
The Fredericksburg food Co-op will open a store once it grows its membership base to about 1,000. Co-op membership is a one-time investment of $200 per household, business or other entity. These membership investments provide capital and support necessary to move forward with opening a co-op grocery store to serve the Fredericksburg area. For more information and to become a member-owner please go to www.fredericksburgfoodcoop.com.