Dear Member Owners,
The past month has been extraordinarily busy for the East Aurora Food Co-op on all fronts. I want to tell you what has been happening to further our project and provide some insight into where you can help.
Site negotiations. Over the last month we have entered into serious negotiations for a site that we feel could be something potentially great. In order to get to a lease agreement for this space, several more major steps need to take place. Each of these steps will reveal information that will provide more certainty that our site is feasible from every aspect.
The first of these steps is a market study to demonstrate adequate sales projections and analyze the impact our competitors might have. Some of these competitors are new and we want to be sure that their impact won’t infringe on the healthy sales projections we need for our store to succeed in the long term.
Next is an inspection of sorts. Just like when you purchase a home, you want to know that there are no hidden problems that could prove costly later. While our intention is to lease, we will have invested a considerable amount of money into equipment and inventory of our store and we will want to do everything we can to protect those assets.
Store design feasibility. Once these two previously mentioned items have been tackled, we will get to the exciting and fun stuff: Store design. This work is twofold: First, it entails ensuring that the footprint of the property will work well for a grocery store. It also involves identifying departments we wish to include and laying them out to our best and most appealing advantage. This is a process that takes many, many reiterations and tweaks along the way. But we will be utilizing the expertise of professionals and have already begun working with them. For those of us who have been involved with the project from the beginning, this part is particularly exciting because it is where our original vision for this store and reality will finally intersect. Our dream is your dream, as we will attempt to build a store where you will love to shop and our local producers will be proud to display and sell their products.
It is important to note that while all of the above are happening and while we continue to receive new information, we are testing, retesting and conservatively tweaking our financial pro forma to insure that our approach is both sound and viable as we move toward signing a final lease.
I hope you will agree that, while there is plenty of work ahead, this is a pretty exciting time for the East Aurora Food Co-op, indeed!
Now, I want to tell you where you can play a role. A couple of weeks ago, I spent a Saturday volunteering at our Mini Market. While I was sitting at the desk, I enjoyed seeing all the passersby on bikes and walking with babies and dogs. One little boy drew my attention as he rode by on his bike, looking quizzically up at our store window. To my surprise he pulled over, got off his bike, and came in the store. “Can you tell me what a Cooperative Market does?” he asked. Somewhat stunned at his curiosity, I began to explain all the wonderful things a cooperative can do for the community. Then he asked how much it cost to join and I answered him. He looked around a bit, and as he did, I asked him if he planned to join the co-op. He responded without a moment’s hesitation, “Once I have the cash.” Then he thanked me and biked away. That was, undeniably, the best part of my day and I couldn’t help but think that one day, that 11 year old would make an excellent board candidate for the co-op. His name was John M. and he is in the 6th grade at the East Aurora Middle School along with my daughter, Elinor.
Last night when I lamented having to write yet another article for the Enews (Yeah, I’ll admit it, sometimes I get tired!), Elinor offered to write it for me. She didn’t need to be persuaded. With a couple of questions and very little input, this is what she came up with:
Hi, people of the South Towns!! Before I give you the upcoming news and events, I just wanted to ask you an important “would you rather” question: Would you rather pay a little for local, wholesome foods, or thousands of dollars for a heart attack, diabetes, food poisoning, etc?
I know you know the right choice, but do your friends? We are asking you if you could tell your friends to help us. From something as easy as shopping at the mini market to as committed as becoming a member. Please simply bring up the subject with your friends at least once.
Elinor Gass, Member owner
I thought it was quite good and I hope you will take a cue from both John and Elinor.
Yours in Cooperation,