It take a lot of work to start a new food cooperative: construction, regulations, marketing, member recruitment…you get the idea. Up til now all activities have been done by the volunteer board, many of us in our “spare time.” As we move closer to store opening, the task list only gets longer and the board is delighted to be bringing on its first staff person. Luke Pfeifer started last Monday and he will be taking on store set up details and membership recruitment as our admin/organizer.
Let us also thank all of you who shared your thoughts through our survey in February. We had 132 respondents who shared invaluable information about their shopping habits and product suggestions. The MANNA board is using the responses to inform decisions about store hours, inventory, and how to organize our efforts to meet your needs.
Meet Luke Pfeifer:
Hello MANNA community and future Members! I am proud and excited to return to my home town with the opportunity to help our new MANNA Food Co-op get up and running, which will of course help our entire community.
I’ve spent many rewarding years in the health and wellness community, starting out after college as the wellness intern right here at the Detroit Lakes MnDot. Over the next 8 years I worked with nutritional supplements, health education, coaching, and even developing strength programs for youth. And from there to over 3 years working in behavioral modification counseling to help people get back to life-long healthy eating habits.
Healthy food weather is ramping up so we need everyone to ready and excited! And if you have friends or loved ones that you want to see start eating healthy, help us spread the word.
See you in the store!
Member Recruitment Continues – Let’s hit 500
It seems like a long haul, but in comparison to other food co-op start ups, MANNA is moving in light speed. The average time for new co-ops from start to store opening is 5 to 7 years (http://www.fci.coop/) and we’ve been at this about 15 months.
Why so long, you ask? Member recruitment. A food co-op without members is like a library without patrons – it just doesn’t work. This is not some warehouse store marketing scheme. A co-op isn’t a club membership like Costco or Sam’s Club. Members OWN the store. Your $150 makes you a shareholder and you get voting rights in board elections and dividends based on how much you shop.
I think we’re all excited to have this new store opening, but we need more members to sign up and back this effort in our community. We are inching up from 350, but we need to pick up the pace to meet our goal of 500 at time of store opening. These member investments are critical to funding our start-up and showing support. Go https://mannafoodcoop.com/member-application/ to to sign up.
Our Timeline and Milestones:
COMPLETED: Pre-lease member goal of 300 members
COMPLETED: Department of Agriculture plan review
COMPLETED: Signing lease on building at 105 Barbara Avenue on Highway 34
Winter 2016-17: Building remodel
Spring 2017: Pre-opening member goal of 500 members
Summer 2017: Opening of store
Meeting Local Producers
An important part of MANNA’s mission is to support local farmers and feature their products in the store. On March 25th, Wendy Gordan and Ryan Pesch hosted an informational meeting with local producers about selling through the co-op. Producers learned about our needs and process to become a vendor as well as pricing and quality standard for selling to the co-op.
Nearly 30 people were in attendance who were interested in selling a great mix of foods: produce, grass-fed beef, honey, organic coffee, health and body care products, maple syrup, pork, and lamb. We have heard from other local vendors since about supplying organic grains and fruits. If you have interest or you know of other local producers who be interested in selling to co-op, please contact Ryan Pesch at firstname.lastname@example.org for an application and information.
Our general contractor, Robert Zahorski (in picture on left) has been hard at work transforming our building on Barbara Avenue into a grocery storefront. Drywall is nearing completion and tiling is being installed starting this week. Heck, paint is even picked out. We have also purchased all the shelving, which is already on site and ready for installation.
Bless you and thank you for all your support! Please contact any board member with questions you may have.
MANNA Food Co-op Board of Directors,