santa fe community coop

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Santa Fe’s New Social, Economic and Environmental Cooperative Model

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We want to get the word out about our new social, economic, and environmental cooperative model. Bridging the North and South sides of Santa Fe, our new cooperative provides high quality, affordable food to everyone. It brings food & health equity and new farming models together, growing more local food and creating more local jobs in Santa Fe, while preserving our most vulnerable resource, water.

The Coop offers one-stop-shopping for healthy, nutritious, mostly organic and non-GMO, local whenever possible, food; along with nutritional supplements, basic housewares, some hardware, beauty products, and select gourmet. It will be home to a rich and progressive culture where Santa Feans actively participate in improving their own lives and lives of others . . . where we, together, deliver on our commitment to live a life of meaning.

The Coop is family-oriented, with childcare and desks for homework, cooking and nutritional classes, and high quality prepared food for seniors and singles. Built on a solid ecological model, the backbone of the coop is an energy efficient system that optimizes thermal outputs, recycles grey water, deploys solar energy, and uses proven and emerging agricultural technologies in a model, economically and environmentally viable, grocery store replete with high-yield, water-efficient urban farming. Working with La Familia Medical Center, Youthbuild job corp and other community NGO’s we are marshaling our community’s economic and social resources to empower Santa Fe’s growth and health.

The Coop uses a proven business model, the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn, which has been in business for 40 years . . . with whom we have strong and active strategic alliance. Located in a walking community of 73,595, the PSFC is one of the top five independent grocery stores in the country. It is highly efficient, with $6,500 annual sales per square foot compared to Whole Foods’ $777. It has 16,000 working members, and charges 21% mark-up compared with most natural grocers’ mark-up of 65% and more. The Coop saves shoppers 20%-40% on food, selling organic Yukon Golds for $.57 lb and organic leeks for $2.37. They take healthy food to a new level, stocking 85% organic compared to Whole Foods’ 26%. The Coop will launch with a 29% mark-up.

The Coop needs your help. We cannot do this without you. You are the foundation of the cooperative . . . its owners, its cheerleaders, its heart and soul. We encourage you to join and to let your friends know about the Coop so they can join. The Coop needs 400 Founding Members to secure our site and our financing; we will not spend your pledge or move forward until we have 400 Members. By joining now, you will save your first year’s $25 membership fee, and you will have the pleasure of knowing that you have helped make an outstanding contribution to our community, a contribution that delivers on Santa Fe’s promise of citizen engagement, cultural diversity, and ecological stewardship.

To join, click here. If you want to learn more, you will find lots of information on the Coop’s web site and Facebook page. We invite you to attend a community gathering where you can meet Members and newcomers. Our next meeting is Monday, September 23, 5:30 – 7:00, at La Farge Branch Library, 1730 Llano Street.

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$.57 for Organic Yukon Golds, $2.37 for Organic Leeks

PSFC

Just back from an uplifting and energizing visit to the Park Slope Food Coop. I left Brooklyn confident that the commitment that Joe Holtz, Founder and GM, and Ann Herpel, a General Coordinator assigned to work with new coops, had to their coop was only a part of their heartfelt commitment to spreading the rich culture, fine quality, and reasonable prices that have been the hallmark of their cooperative for forty years. They provided guidance and printouts on governance, labor law, finances, inventory, sales, and refrigeration/facilities. I left with 200 pictures and a 2″ pile of forms that we can tailor to our operations. They generously offered to answer questions as they arise and extended an invitation come back for staff training. Our relationship with the Park Slope Food Coop will save us months of work and costly trial and error.

The most striking features of the cooperative are its incredible diversity – members of all races and ethnicities, all ages, all income levels – and their wonderful food. The coop serves everyone, from hedge fund managers to those on food stamps. At 85% organic, with 84 feet of produce and 8,000 organic sku’s, they offer a wide range of high quality products, including household wares, organic baby products, beauty products, and vitamins, in only 6,000 square feet of selling space. You might wonder at their low $.57 price for organic Yukon Gold potatoes and $2.37 for organic leeks, especially in NY where the cost of food is easily 10%-20% higher than in Santa Fe. The same products at Whole Foods in Santa Fe sell for $1.99 lb. and $3.99. Lest I mislead you, the Santa Fe Community Coop’s shoppers-members-owners won’t experience this level of savings for a while.

And, despite a robust Farmer’s Market, an excellent health food store, several gourmet markets, and the recent opening of aTrader Joe’s, the Coop’s sales have grown more than 20% in the last couple of years, from the $39.4 million reported by Fortune in 2010, to their $48 million in 2012. Joe reminded me that when I was a member, there were only 5,000 members; now there are 16,000+.

Some might say that the reason for Park Slope’s success is that the coop is located in Park Slope, in Brooklyn. But Park Slope boasts a resident count of only 73,595 and historically, the coop has drawn its membership from

Park Slope Food Coop

Park Slope Food Coop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

a mile and a half radius. And while those who live by Prospect Park are quite well off, those who live nearer 4th Avenue are not. And yes, their median income is higher than ours. But I would suggest that healthy, affordable food is even more important in Santa Fe than in it is in Park Slope for exactly that reason. And, with the USDA reporting that food prices will be rising 4% to 7% annually, healthy, affordable food will become even more in demand than it is today.

Taking action to find a more sustainable social and economic model now will create resilience for our community going forward.


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Following In Very Successful Footsteps

The Santa Fe Community Coop is modeled after the Park Slope Food Coop, an Imageunconventional, mostly organic, grocery store which been in business for 40 years, hence its url, foodcoop.com. One of the ten most successful independent grocery stores in the country, the PSFC has purchased three buildings and now has 16,000 active working members. It has a whopping $39.4 million in sales, which translates into a per square foot average of $6,500 compared to Whole Food’s average store sales of $31.2 million and a per square foot average of $838.

ImageKeep in mind that these sales figures are based on Park Slope Food Coop prices, which are significantly lower than Whole Foods prices. This means the PSFC is selling a whole lot more food than Whole Foods for each dollar spent. It also means that Coop members are collectively saving millions of dollars compared to shopping at Whole Foods.

The PSFC estimates that it saves members 20% to 40% on groceries. Extrapolating from USDA numbers on what a “moderate plan” family of four spends on food, shopping at the coop saves them $200 to $400 a month, as much as $4,800 a year.

The reason for the Park Slope Food Cooperative’s success is that it is in business to serve its members. It provides high quality, mostly organic, food at 21% over cost. It can do this because 75% of its labor costs, after product the largest grocery expense, are provided by its members.

Because all members actively participate in running the cooperative during regular and flex work shifts, there is significantly less staffing cost for receiving, inventory management, packaging, shelf stocking, checkout, and cleaning. The money saved on staffing reduces the price of food. Other economies include carefully selected inventory, 9,500 SKUs instead of the customary 50,000, like Trader Joe’s, enabling reduced inventory, leasing and energy costs; reduced use of packaging; and eliminating credit card interchange fees.

Like the Park Slope Food Coop, the Santa Fe Community Coop is a member owned, member operated, member governed consumer cooperative selling nutritious food at affordable prices.

The Park Slope Co-op Makes More Money Than Whole Foods , Grubb Street NY

The rise of the grocery co-op , Fortune

Whole Foods Market Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript , Seeking Alpha