The people who came up with the idea of starting a food co-op called the Wild Root Market want to pick a location, but they don’t have enough members buying into the concept to start the process.
With close to 400 member-owners, the group needs to sign-up an additional 275 people before they can start real estate negotiations. And therein lies the problem. Invariably, people want to know where the market will be located before they make a commitment, and yet the group can’t make a commitment to a location without more members.
Colleen Wilkinson, the committee’s chairwoman, and a Wind Point homemaker and mom, calls this “a real typical co-op catch-22.”
“We have to make certain that these thresholds are met so that we can operate in a viable and sustainable way, and so that we can open in a strong financial position,” she said. “The other hold-back is that those future member-owners don't understand the urgency or importance of their buying-in during the start-up phase.”
Co-op members pay a yearly fee to belong to the cooperative grocery store. However, anyone can shop at a cooperative grocery store; membership means having a voice in how the grocery store is operated. The group expects to announce their site location by the end of the year and open by the fall of 2013. They envision a store that features organic and local produce, and they plan to employ about 30 people at fair wages.
Wilkinson explained they have three potential locations in Racine that are within three miles of the downtown area.
So, the group hopes to register 275 new members in October, and Wilkinson points to having 1,700 on her mailing list and about 1,000 Facebook fans on their Wild Root Market site.
“These are people who are watching our efforts and communications, and they seem to be pretty engaged,” Wilkinson said. “Even if there were half of them wanting to shop the co-op and buy-in, we could choose the site.”
The full equity share cost $200 and is a one-time payment, but the group also has an installment plan. No annual payments exist. If you are interested in becoming a co-op member-owner, click here.