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Free Range Food Co-op

OWNER TOOLKIT

As owners, we are our co-op's best resource of building support and ownership within the community. We all have friends, family, neighbors, and other social contacts that would be interested in the mission of our food co-op. They simply need to be asked, or they don't fully understand what a food co-op is, and why their ownership is needed now before the store opens.  

Have you heard of the Rule of Seven? This marketing concept states that a prospective buyer won't likely see or hear a marketing message, or seriously consider buying, until they've been exposed to the message at least seven times.  We refer to this a lot on the organizing team as we are building ownership. It helps to keep us from getting discouraged with the knowledge that it takes time to get the message out, and for people to listen and accept it. These seven touches can consist of a variety of different messages; a personal conversation, a simple social media post, a phone call, reading a poster or flyer, or attending a co-op event or meeting to name a few.

The intent of this owner toolkit, is to give you the tools to talk about the food co-op to the people in your life.  It's a central place for owners to go, or to point potential owners to, in order to learn more about your co-op. Promoting the food co-op is a responsibility of all owners, and talking about it is a way all of us can help to build it. Your willingness to learn more about the co-op and promote it positively within our community helps us to fulfill our mission, and gives us a much further reach into Grand Rapids and the surrounding cities than our outreach team ever could. 

We have learned that most people want to hear about the food co-op. They may not become owners right away, but that doesn't mean they don't support the mission of growing our local food system, and having better access to local and organic foods and products here in our own community. We have found that most people support that, but our task is finding creative ways to encourage them to invest and become owners now, and not wait until the store is open.  It's asking people to trust and become visionaries and see the possibilities, and that isn't always easy.  Use your experience as an owner, and a consumer.  What do you want here in your community? What do you feel is missing that the co-op might provide for you? Why did you choose to become an owner now? All of these questions are valuable tools in talking with others about the co-op. And remember, when you ask someone to become an owner, you are not asking them for money or for a favor. You are letting them know about an opportunity to invest in ownership along with their community, to build a food co-op in Grand Rapids. Be proud of your co-op, and of yourself for stepping out and helping to build it and spread the word!    

RESOURCES

  • Are you on Facebook?  Like our page.  If there's something going on with the co-op, chances are you'll find out there first.
  • Are you on Instagram?  Like our page.  Instagram allows for creativity using images in a positive way, and we love that. 
  • Food Co-op Initiative, based in Minnesota, has been a wealth of information, mentorship and support for our co-op.  They've been with us every step of the way, offering advice, training, grant opportunities, and over 30 years of experience with food co-ops. Their services are free to us, and paid for by support from other co-ops, and grant funds from the USDA, Blooming Prairie Foundation, and other sources.
  • CDS Consulting Co-op is a cooperative formed by consultants who have a large variety of expertise that they contract out to both mature and start-up food co-ops.  Currently our co-op is working with Bill Gessner on financial feasibility, and Debbie Suassuna on market analysis.
  • Cooperative Development Services is a non-profit based in Minnesota that works with cooperatives of all kinds offering guidance, support, expertise, and resources.
  • International Cooperative Alliance is a non-profit international association established in 1895 to advance the co-operative model.
  • University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives provides training, workshops, and many reports and resources available on their website.
  • Cooperatives for a Better World is a fun, graphic website with a large variety of resources for co-ops of all kinds.