On average, it takes five to six years to open a new community owned grocery store. This process is very similar to the process of opening a conventional grocery store except that it all takes place in the open and with community input. It may seem like a conventional store gets opened quickly because by the time they break ground, they’ve done years of behind-the-scenes work and research.
The total time it will take to open Whitewater Grocery Co. is dependent on many factors: how quickly we build our Ownership, securing a location, getting financing, and hiring a talented General Manager. All of these key pieces must be in place to open the grocery store and, as in any big undertaking, we will encounter both triumphs and challenges along the way which affect the overall timing of the project.
We began our organizing late in 2015 and officially incorporated on April 4, 2017. Our Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws of the Whitewater Grocery Co. are available for your reference. Through the process, we’ve taken advantage of the vast resources available to help new community owned stores get off the ground and open with success. There is nothing more important than doing this right and we have a great model for the right way. The “cookbook”, as we refer to it, is a development model based on best practices in establishing a new cooperative grocery store. We first learned about this cookbook at the 2016 Up & Coming Food Co-Op Conference and we have been following it ever since. We know that by following the recipes in this model, we’ll be cooking up a grocery store that will thrive in our community!
In the last two years, we...
- Amended our Articles of Incorporation to allow for growth from seven board members to nine. We elected those two additional board members 10/10/2019.
- Grew from $40,000 to over $70,000 in Owner equity
- Rented much-needed office space!
- Established governance policies for Board of Directors and three committees
- Had over 20 media mentions or appearances
- Spoke to a dozen community groups resulting in new owners at each presentation
- Were invited to present at two conferences regarding rural grocery store development
- Received $1250 from the University of Whitewater Student Government (to be used toward Ownerships for low-income families or students)
Received results of 3 market studies:
- Whitewater can reasonably support a full-service grocery store
- We will plan to build a 7,000-10,000 square foot full-service grocery store (about the size of a large Kwik Trip)
- Built pro forma and continue to work on proving financial feasibility given different inputs
- Began the location evaluation process and narrowed current options to 3 sites
- We continue to be one of the fastest growing cooperatively owned grocery store start-ups in the country (one year or more ahead of others in membership numbers)