A natural food co-op in Ticonderoga could be successful. That’s the result of a study conducted by a Minnesota consultant.
A natural food co-op in Ticonderoga could be successful.
That’s the result of a study conducted by a Minnesota consultant.
“According to the market study, the population size, including seasonal residents, and demographic composition of the market area, as well as the weak competitive environment with respect to other natural and organic food stores, combined with the experiences of other natural food co-ops in similar market situations, it appears that there is sufficient sales potential to support a co-op food store,” said Sharon Reynolds, executive director of PRIDE.
Ticonderoga officials turned their attention to the possible creation of a food co-op after failing to generate interest from large grocery chains in locating in the community.
“We’re more apt to get a co-op type store than a chain grocery store,” Ti Supervisor Deb Malaney said. “This will allow us to see what our options are.”
A food cooperative or food co-op is a grocery store owned, organized and operated by members. Since decisions about how to run a cooperative are not made by outside shareholders, cooperatives often exhibit a high degree of social responsibility with an emphasis on local, natural foods.
PRIDE hired CDS Consulting Co-op from Minnesota to do the study, which was completed in December. The study was funded by a Quality Communities Grant submitted by the town of Ticonderoga.
The study included a sales forecast analysis and an evaluation of proposed sites.
In presenting the study results, CDS offered a financial outlook followed by a training session for people interested in possibly forming a grocery co-op.
“The study of the Ticonderoga market area has resulted in a number of findings and conclusions regarding the proposed co-op food store,” Reynolds said. “Among the findings was the definition of the trade area and the population within the trade area, a summary of the demographic composition and a review of the competitive environment that current exists.”
At one time Ticonderoga had three grocery stores. It now has one, Wal-Mart.
“It is worthwhile to note that, based on anecdotal information from the management of other existing food co-ops, the presence of a large, conventional grocery store adjacent to a co-op food store can be beneficial particularly for smaller-sized co-op food stores,” Reynolds said. “For example, Wal-Mart Supercenter can create some beneficial synergy with the co-op by attracting more food store shoppers into the co-op’s vicinity, and by allowing co-op shoppers to supplement their weekly grocery purchases at the conventional grocery store.”
The study indicated good management will be key to a successful co-op.
“It was clear that management of a member-owner food co-op is a major requirement for success,” Reynolds said.
A grocery co-op can take as long as three years to become operational, the study noted.
“This is due to the fact that co-ops are a true grassroots effort, are community-based and depend on individuals to be the organizers and planners,” Malaney said.
“In an effort to keep the conversation going and to learn more about how to bring a natural food store to the area, we are asking for residents of Ticonderoga and the surrounding communities who are interested in knowing more about food co-ops and who want to be involved in the research and planning to contact Sharon Reynolds,” she said.
Reynolds can be reached via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 585-6366 ext. 103.
“The idea is for everyone to meet and to learn about cooperatives and how they function in a community,” Reynolds said. “This would be a grassroots effort like no other and we need energetic individuals who are passionate about access to fresh, local, organic and healthy food. We are planning to invite the general manager from the Middlebury co-op talk with us about his start-up experience.
“We also may have an opportunity to work with Assistant Professor at the Center for Earth and Environmental Science at SUNY Plattsburgh Curt Gervich, Ph.D., and his class in environment management for further research into the feasibility or alternatives to a co-op food store in Ticonderoga,” she said.
Malaney hopes a Ticonderoga co-op can be similar to the Middlebury Natural Foods Cooperative. That store is open seven days a week 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Operated by a board of directors elected by membership, the Middlebury co-op emphasizes healthy foods, making a positive impact on the local economy and stresses environmentally sustainable and energy efficient practices.
The Middlebury Natural Foods Cooperative began in the early 1970s as a pre-order buying club. Its purpose was to provide members with wholesome, natural foods that were not available elsewhere. To maximize savings, members bought in bulk and packaged the food themselves. During the last 40 years, the co-op has expanded several times to include a store-front operation that is open to members and the public. It includes a prepared foods section and deli with indoor and outdoor seating.