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 we often only see them break ground, but they’ve done years of behind-the-scenes work and research previous to that moment.
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. Read more about our timeline process here.
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 four 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 at the Whitewater Innovation Center through 2019 and now currently reside in the UWW Community Engagement Center!
- Established governance policies for Board of Directors and three committees
- Had over 30 media mentions or appearances
- Spoke to a majority of our 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 7,000-8,000 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 2 sites
- Recruited 20+ Volunteers who do committee work as well as small tasks when needed
- Had 10+ local businesses and Whitewater City Market vendors join as Business Member-Owners
- Began diversity and inclusivity work to learn about how to be a store truly for our entire community
- Raised over $3,000 during our 2020 Flash Food Drive for the 4th in collaboration with the Whitewater Community Foundation on behalf of The Community Space, the Whitewater Food Pantry, and Whitewater Unites Lives
- Received donations totaling close to $1500 to be used toward scholarships or supplementing ownerships
- Continue to be growing at a quicker pace than is standard for start-up co-ops on the road to opening a store!