Potential for Growth

// Food Co-op to pursue storefront property

The Tacoma Food Co-Op recently held its second annual members meeting on Oct. 25 and discussed some pertinent issues for the organization going forward. The biggest at hand was the decision on whether to purchase a storefront at the current Neighborhood Market, located at 6th Avenue and South Junett Street. 

According to incoming Tacoma Food Co-op Board President Corinne Henderson, the co-op has been in talks about the proposed storefront space for a year now.

The co-op, after looking at a feasibility study and working with consultants on a market study, determined the Neighborhood Market was the best option.

In initial talks, the co-op was considering only taking over half of the Neighborhood Market space, and sharing the rest with the existing market. But eventually it was decided that, if all goes well, their members would outgrow the space and inevitably need to find another.

“It’s still a relatively small store, about 4,000 square feet roughly,” Henderson said. “While it is a good place to start, it will limit our sales and revenue eventually, and it may be something that we outgrow and we may need to move into a second location if we are successful. The Olympia Co-op had to do that and it was successful.

“It would be a major effort to open a second store, and it would be great to be that successful at the same time. It is relatively small, but on the plus side, since we think that the location in the general 6th Avenue area is the one feasibility study pointed to as best area in terms of customer demographics and competitors, the location is great. Owner John Loesch is looking to retire and offering a good deal, better than we’d get in a better place,” Henderson said.

Currently, the Tacoma Food Co-op has 299 members. Member-owners purchase their share of the business and membership for a flat $100, with no annual or monthly fees.

“What we’re doing now is finalizing our revenue projections for the store and that will tell us how much we need to raise before opening. It seems like the best option right now is to sell preferred stock,” Henderson said. “It’s a way to raise money for the store and for the community to be invested and be owners. Individuals would have to be a member to purchase a share of preferred stock, as it’s just an additional way for us to raise funds for the store.”

Tacoma Food Co-op has received an offer to lease all the space for $4,000 a month. Loesch is offering to sell the store space, including existing fixtures, equipment and goodwill for $250,000 and will defer payment for two years as the organization establishes its business. The goal for the opening date of the brick and mortar Tacoma Food Co-op is late spring or early summer of 2011, and the co-op will be looking to hire a full-time general manager early next year.

Henderson said the co-op is right where it should be with members. “Generally, once the store opens, you more than double your members,” she said.

For more information, to join or to get involved with the co-op, visit its website at www.tacomafoodcoop.com.


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