On January 19th, the Bethlehem Food Co-Op convened for its second general meeting. In the spacious Ice House on Sand Island, about 60 interested people, including some new faces, gathered to move forward with the early planning stages. From 7-8pm the four committees identified at the first general meeting broke out for group discussion, strategic planning and selecting of group leaders. From 8-9pm, the group met in entirety to share group reports and vote on an official name: The Bethlehem Food Co-Op. The next general meeting will be Monday, February 20 at 7pm, location TBA.
As committee leaders submit reports and notes, they will be posted here for all to see:
(leaders: Sharon Maus, Matty Sarro, Jon Soden)
Business Model – Deciding on how the entity will be structured is important and one of the short-term decisions the group will need to make. While our initial instinct is to set up as a Corporation, we plan on looking into the positives and negatives of both a corporate and non-profit structure, as well as a hybrid of a corporation with a non-profit inside the corporation. Our plan is to present to the larger group in February.
Funding Structure – This will be driven by a number of factors, including the feasibility analysis being done by the planning committee as well as the overall structure of the business. If we take a higher cost approach it would be different than a more bare bones approach. On general principal we discussed a possible two-tiered membership where one would choose from a simple cash payment for membership or a much smaller initial payment and a commitment to work a set number of hours at the store each week (3-5 hrs.?). We have no real feel on initial capital needed, as this will be determined by initial start-up costs.
Bank Account/ Professional Help – We discussed a bank account and getting both legal and accounting help at our meeting. Members of the group will be looking to see who is available at either deeply discounted or donated time for legal advice. A bank account should be opened soon, but was not needed right away. We discussed working with a local bank or credit union.
Fundraising – We brainstormed fundraising ideas including pop-up co-op’s at events, kickstarter.com campaign, and donations.We thought a cookbook, sourced with member recipes and information on a co-op is and what Bethlehem Food Co-op is all about would be a nice project. It would help us raise funds while raising awareness at the same time.
(leaders: Colleen Marsh, Amber Ott, Christian Weber)
- We agreed that the Facebook group should be open for posting by all group members, but should be monitored by the group administrators for offensive or commercial comments.
- A couple of people mentioned difficulties with registering for the discussion forums. Matty is working on a platform that would allow for a streamlined online portal for all co-op resources. He’ll keep us posted on this as it develops, but, for now, please try to register for the existing discussion forum.
- You can access the forums here.
- We brainstormed different PR opportunities like DBA events and WDIY radio shows.
- The website should include a page called “Get Involved” that lists ideas about how people can contribute at this stage.
- Please share ideas for what to include on this page in this thread.
- Talking points/elevator story should be available for use in publications and for general conversation points as members tell people about the co-op. We hope to present a draft in February.
- A general statement we can use to describe the co-op at this early stage is: “We are seeking to plan and implement a community-owned and operated grocery store in downtown Bethlehem that would offer fresh foods at reasonable prices and provide valuable outreach and resources for the community.”
- Logo/brand identity design is priority now that we have a name. We hope to present several concepts in February. After brand identity has been established, we will move on to brochure and other marketing material development.
Reports will be posted as they are received from Membership and Planning!