Development Co+op Brings Successful Loan Fund to Close

The NCG Development Co+operative is pleased to announce that it has loaned $9,350,000 of the $10 million dollars made available to retail food co-ops in its charter loan fund! Loans were made to support expansion and improvement efforts at three co-ops—First Alternative Co-op (Corvallis, Ore.), Co+opportunity (Santa Monica, Calif.), and Wheatsville Co-op (Austin, Tex.)—helping ensure they continue to be strong and vibrant businesses, able to meet the needs of their local communities. The loan fund is now closed, with remaining funds returned to investors.

Expanding the Tent

Where do you go when you have a question related to your job at your co-op that your co-worker, owners, or board are unable answer? For years, it was probably the Cooperative Grocers’ Information Network (CGIN) general listserve or one of its related listserves for operations, human resources, membership and marketing, and so on.

CGN Plans Ahead at Up & Coming

Whenever cooperators congregate, it’s a gathering of the tribe that generates the joy of mutual recognition. Such was the case at the 2017 Up & Coming food co-op conference. Held for the first time in Milwaukee (where the conference will take place again in 2018), Outpost Natural Foods was our generous and inspiring co-op host, offering tours of two of its stores. 

Artist Lucy Sparrow Has to Close Her Fake Bodega

[Fake food in the real news]

Everyone knows that New Yorkers love a good bodega, but British artist Lucy Sparrow wasn’t quite prepared for the popularity of her hit exhibition 8 ‘Till Late. Despite crafting 9,000 felt sculptures for the occasion, Sparrow announced on Tuesday that her first solo show has sold out and will close nine days early, on June 21.

Willy Street: Locally Focused

Like any 40-year-old business, Willy Street Co-op has seen its fair share of changes. The co-op was started in 1974 by a buying group looking to source food that they couldn't find elsewhere, namely organic and natural. The venture paid off, and the co-op opened its third location in Madison, Wis., in August 2016. It also has grown to 34,500 members/owners.

Viroqua Food Co-op Launches Investment Campaign for Expansion of Store

After five years of meeting, planning, surveying and organizing, the Viroqua Food Co-op is officially launching a Capital Investment Campaign. VFC is counting on its member-owners to collectively invest $1 million in Class C Shares by Aug. 15 for the expansion of the store in its current location. Class C Shares are a nonvoting, preferred stock offering a dividend of 3 percent with a minimum of $500 investment and a 4 percent dividend for investments over $10,000.

More Co-ops Vote for Unions

A fair summary of labor unions and food co-ops appears in the current issue of the Minneapolis neighborhood paper, Southside Pride: http://southsidepride.com/the-co-op-way-of-business/.  Unlike many treatments of food co-op union discussions, this one appears balanced and accurate—including examples from co-ops in the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, Duluth, and elsewhere. In most instances, the union is United Food and Commercial Workers, and the election is not contested—but not always.

Annual Report Shows Healthy U.K. Co-ops

Ever want to know a bit more about co-ops in the United Kingdom? An annual summary of these co-ops is now available: http://bit.ly/2t2D0H3. Consumer co-ops are the largest sector of cooperatives there, while agricultural co-ops are second. Businesses have been challenged during years of recession, and co-op sales levels are still recovering, yet more members are joining. The article linked above, from Co-op News, lists by volume the largest co-ops in the country and also has its own link to the full, detailed annual report.