This is an important update that I hope you will read through to the end.
Many weeks have gone by since we began demolition at the site and, while we have made great strides on a number of fronts, at this point we had hoped to be much further along with the build out of our store.
As you know, we began our work on the building in early June. As we moved through the demolition of this 100-year-old, multi-tenant building and began to take down the drywall that sub-divided the space, several substantial pre-existing structural issues were revealed to us. These were significant problems that required us to halt our progress until the problems could be studied and solutions determined. Today, we are still awaiting the solutions that will restore the building to a condition that is structurally sound and safe to continue our work. Until then, we are doing all that can be done on the outside of the building, including our receiving area and vestibule that will house our grocery carts.
While we wait to make more significant progress on our site, work continues on other important fronts: Our volunteer marketing team, made up of marketing industry professionals, has been diligently focused on a rebranding effort and we have just launched our new logo. We continue to work on financing and the closing of two significant loans for which we have already received commitment letters. Those loans are critical to our success. We are also continuing to refine our pro forma, reconciling projected costs with “real life” construction bids and calculating the financial impact of a delayed opening.
Events have been planned for the fall to encourage membership and educate the community about the great value a Co-op will bring to the Southtowns. Stay tuned and look for us next at the Taste of East Aurora on September 12.
In addition, I am working daily to develop store policies, prepare to hire staff, determine the offerings in each department, and identify store vendors. We are also working with local artist Alix Martin on an art piece over our registers that will both buffer sound and provide an attractive aesthetic, making our store one of a kind – just like our community.
The setbacks related to the condition of our site have postponed our opening, but what you need to know is that many of your friends and neighbors are working hard to get our doors open just as soon as possible. As has always been the case, we are working on behalf of you, our members, to do it the right way so that you can be truly proud to be a part of it.
When I first began as general manager of the Co-op this past June, I was not aware of the great many people in our community and beyond who are working daily to bring the Co-op to reality. The Co-op has been more than five years in the making, so it is obviously no easy endeavor. It has required the perseverance, patience, and sustained, coordinated effort of a dedicated group of about 80 volunteers in our community who have committed their free time and more to this effort.
This long, arduous process undoubtedly points to why there are not Co-ops in everycommunity. Ours is one of the fortunate ones, where “Service above Self” is not just a motto on a garbage can, but a daily practice.
As we keep moving forward, I will do my best to keep the updates coming. In the meantime, please keep the emails coming ([email protected]). It’s great to hear from all of you and your support is appreciated. It is truly a pleasure to be a part of such a great group of people.
Milestones 2010 – 2015
Read on to see how far we’ve come together…
2010: Announced project to the community; incorporated; established founding board and committees, bylaws and membership documents; began recruiting member-owners.
2011: Identified Sheila Conboy as Project Manager; celebrated 500 member-owners; received $10,000 matching grant from Food Co-op Initiative based on the progress made in a short time and commitment to the cooperative model.
2012: Tested feasibility, conducted market studies; board engaged an advisor for guidance in building strong governance foundation; board and committees participated in development and training events.
2013: Based on market study results (3 studies evaluating 7 sites), the board prepared to secure a site; began plans and preparations to launch our Capital Campaign and General Manager Search.
2014: Announced site in May; by the end of November, had raised $880,00 from member-owners; began to secure outside funding, launched GM search in December.
2015: Hired our GM, Terry Wittenrich (pictured at left)! Preparations are under way to get the store open. See Terry’s message above to see where we are now.