Whether you are brand new to the idea of a co-op or are curious about how the process of opening one will play out, this video is a great resource!
February 28, 2012 by Colleen M
February 27, 2012 by Colleen M
After a fantastically informative meeting with several movers and shakers for the Weavers Way Co-Op and a tour of the Mt. Airy location (read about it here), we drove our inspired selves over to the second location in Chestnut Hill for another tour. Again, we were blown away by what we encountered! Despite a very different layout, some varied offerings and a slightly different population of shoppers, the warm vibe was certainly present in this location, too. The staff was so cordial as we traipsed through their various work areas, ogling their products and “oohing” over details like signage and bulletin boards. This location had a bit more traditional grocery store floorplan (it is housed in what was another grocery store in the past) and includes a sandwich shop (we chowed down on these masterpieces for lunch), hot food buffet and salad bar, a larger bulk section, plus, it has beehives on the roof to produce honey to sell in the store!
Click on the small images below to see a tour of the Cherry Hill location:
February 26, 2012 by Colleen M
This morning, four co-operators piled into a car and headed down to the north-west edge of Philadelphia, where we were welcomed with open arms by the folks at Weavers Way Co-Op. Weavers Way is a seasoned co-op, established in the 1970s, that has expanded into the sort of co-op utopia we can dream about. They operate two full-service grocery stores, an educational center, four farms, a pet supply store and more!
We spent an hour picking the brains of several incredibly helpful gentlemen—Dean Stefano (store manager for the Chestnut Hill location), Rick Spalek (store manager for the Mt. Airy location), Glenn Bergmann (general manager) and Bob Noble (cooperative business development consultant for the Keystone Development Center). Sipping on organic, fair trade coffee around a conference table in a mural covered building that serves as the headquarters, we were overwhelmed by the generosity and willingness to share information. We filled pages with notes and came home with a stack of valuable resources including newsletters, magazines, a DVD, and a cookbook. We were even given some fabulous co-op buttons. The meeting filled our heads with a huge amount of information, much of which is still being distilled and will be filtered out as we form notes into thoughts and next steps. We were given many contact names and organizations to provide resources (including Keystone Development Center and National Cooperative Grocers Association). Also, we were given contact information for members of the fledgling Doylestown and Creekside Co-Ops, both of which are a couple of steps further in the process than us. The seasoned cooperators also suggested some next steps including formation of a steering committee, writing of by-laws, incorporation, and purchase of a .coop domain name. There will be more discussion of next steps at the March 22 meeting. And, the number one bit of advice we were given: DON’T RUSH.
After our minds were completely blown at the meeting, we headed next door to have a tour of the bustling Mt. Airy location with Rick. The cozy two-story space held more merchandise than imaginable, from bulk herbs to fresh produce to emu eggs to household products to gifts and toys! Click on the photos below for a “tour” of the Mt. Airy location. Part two will showcase the second location in Chestnut Hill!
February 21, 2012 by Colleen M
February’s co-op meeting was hugely productive and well attended, despite a new time and venue. The group was delighted to welcome several new faces. The next general co-op meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, March 22 at 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley. Committee leaders will contact committee members to arrange meetings prior to that date.
Here are the notes from the meeting:
Bethlehem Food Co-Op Meeting
Monday, February 20, 2012
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley
In attendance: about forty people
- Community Connections:
- Cathy Frankenberg met with Tony Hanna (Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority), who offers his support and future assistance with location
- Cathy also met with Kathy Vossough who also offered support and recommended we allow plenty of time between building purchase & opening, recommended non-profit status
- Alan Jennings, of Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV) was named as an ally
- 2 Spanish language canvassers have come forward as future resources
- An accountant (Joyce Haru Moore) is available for future book keeping setup
- Jaime Karpovich & Cathy appeared at LV Green Drinks to talk about the co-op
- Cathy & John Geeting (a local blogger) spoke at Beerituality about food deserts
- Jaime was interviewed for an upcoming Marketplace Magazine article
- Amber Ott wrote an article that was published in the Wink zine online
- Cathy was interviewed as a follow up for Lehigh Valley Patch
- Several co-operators will tour Weavers Way Co-Op on 2/26
- Logo Design
- A subcommittee of the communications committee has been working on logo design
- 3 concepts were presented to the group
- The concepts are still in progress but will be ready for vote at the March meeting. 3 final concepts will first be approved by subcommittee, then communications committee, then general group.
- Elevator Speech
- The following elevator speech & talking points were presented for vote to the general group and were unanimously passed:
- First Level:
We plan to open a community owned and operated grocery store in downtown Bethlehem.Second Level:
Our goals are to offer healthy affordable food and informational workshops in a convenient neighborhood location.Third Level (talking points to expand on based on specific audience’s interests)
-Community Owned (explain about democratic structure & membership)
-Community Operated (provides jobs & possibly even alternative programs like work-for-food, etc.)
-In Downtown Bethlehem (“An Oasis of Fresh Food,” addresses problem of food desert downtown)
-Healthy Food (explain our goal to focus on locally-sourced and organic products)
-Affordable Food (explain how membership & working directly with producers will limit costs, bulk bins)
-Informational Workshops (community involvement, education, cooking classes, nutrition, gardening, etc.)
-Convenient Neighborhood Location (store would be located in one of Bethlehem’s two downtowns and would be accessible on foot, by public transit, bikes, etc.)
If you’d like to stay informed or get involved, visit our website at www.bethlehemfood.org
- Facebook Page
- Discussion about a Facebook page vs. group led to the conclusion that the co-op should ADD a Facebook page and also maintain the group (at least for a several month transition period). A page will better serve the co-op’s needs, but we do not want to lose members in the migration.
- Get Involved Page
- The following content for a new “get involved” page on the website was presented and unanimously approved:
Show Your Support: like us on Facebook, join our email list, subscribe to our website
Share Your Ideas: participate in discussion forums, attend meetings
Volunteer Your Talents: offer your time, skills or services, join a committee
Spread the Word: print & distribute flyers, share the FB page with friends, tell your community leaders
- North & Southside Cleanup Events
- Members of any committee who would like to form a co-op “team” for either one of the cleanup events should contact Amber Ott to sign up.
- Southside Cleanup: 3/24 9am-1pm
- Northside Cleanup: 4/28 9am-12pm, followed by Earth Day event, where we can have an information table
Planning Committee Report
- Feasibility Study/Internal Survey
- Committee decided to first survey the co-op group internally to see what questions to ask in a broader feasibility study
- Presented draft of internal vision survey for those in attendance to fill out
- Have distributed test survey to small group of co-op members via email
- Group agreed that more research needs to be done about feasibility studies & examples should be collected as a template.
- Group visiting Weaver’s Way will ask for a copy of their feasibility study
- Business plan
- The finance committee had planned to present different possible legal structures, but after meeting with a lawyer we have been advised that it is best to design a business plan first and then choose the appropriate structure.
- We collected a list of volunteers representing all committees, and these six people will begin work on the business plan.
- Cathy Frankenberg, Jaime Karpovich, Amber Ott, Emily Hoffert, Jon Soden and Matty Sarro
- Committee reps met with a lawyer, and received quotes on fees
- 1500 for an LLC/S-Corp or 4-5k for a non profit (lots more work with the IRS).
- Haven’t had any luck with lawyers willing to work pro bono. Please let us know if you know anyone who would be interested in donating their time. Cathy has a possible lead on this front.
- Committee presented idea to begin collecting funds through online advertising of small, local businesses on co-op website
- Committee will write a plan to highlight local food producers on the blog and present the plan for a vote at the March meeting.
- Important to note that the co-op cannot collect funds as a non-profit at this time.
- Cookbook publishing fundraiser approved by group
- Cookbook would include recipes, personal essays and education about co-ops
- Six people volunteered to begin work on a cookbook/introduction to co-ops that can be sold at local festivals.
- Jaime Karpovich, Colleen Marsh, Cathy Frankenberg, Audrey Lynn Serfes, Len Frenkle and Sharon Maus
- Farms could pay for sponsored recipes that highlight their products
- Bank account
- Sharon Maus collected 50.00 to be used to open the co-op bank account. She is responsible for that money until it is deposited.
- The plan is for Sharon Maus, Jon Soden, Angela Means and Cathy Frankenberg to open a bank account with a local bank or credit union.
Membership Committee Report
- Membership committee reported that, at this early stage, there is not too much activity for them, but they are actively promoting the co-op to everyone they can
- They are open to any suggestions for what they can be working on until official membership activity can begin.
- Thursday, 3/22/12 at 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley
- THANKS to the UUCLV and Gene for sponsoring our meetings at the church!
February 20, 2012 by Colleen M
Tonight, the Bethlehem Food Co-Op will gather for it’s February meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley (424 Center Street, Bethlehem). The meeting will begin at 5pm.
Here is the agenda for what is planned this evening:
- Cathy and Jaime will update the groups on news, including meetings with representatives from the city, local non-profits, and other co-ops.
- Communications will give an update on logos and on an elevator pitch that we can all use to promote the Co-Op, and on media outreach.
- Planning will announce next steps in the Feasibility Study.
- Membership will discuss possible membership fee structures.
- Finance will summarize their research on legal structures, including a summary of LLC, C Corporations, and Non-Profits. They will also discuss possible fundraising strategies, and the need for a business plan.
- Setting up next action steps and scheduling the next meeting.
A note-taker is needed for this meeting, so if you’d be willing to take legible notes and pass them on to meeting organizers/the co-op blog shortly after the meeting, please come prepared with a pen and notebook!
As always, we welcome new cooperative people! Every idea is valuable and there is a way for anyone to contribute!
February 15, 2012 by Colleen M
We’ve found a venue for our February co-op meeting! This coming Monday (President’s Day), we will meet at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley at 5pm.The time and venue are a bit different than usual because of the holiday. The church is located at: 424 Center St, Bethlehem, PA 18018
The agenda will allow for committee reports and general group discussion. Everyone has been busy working on various aspects of the process for the last month, so it will be great to hear what all groups have been up to and see how far we have come!