Expansion Update


As I write this update, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that our new store has actually been 10 years in the making! Back in 2009, we identified the need to expand the store once again, just 6 years after moving to Bridge Street from our humble digs on Rosseter Street. While the location of the new store has changed in that time, our desire to grow our impact in our community and provide more good food to more people has not changed. 

Today I am excited to say that we are literally two months away from opening our doors and welcoming all of our friends and neighbors in to experience the new Co-op for the very first time. As someone who has been working on moving the Co-op to its new home for all of these 10 years, both as an employee and a board member, to say that I'm excited is an understatement. Ecstatic might be more appropriate, but either way, this is truly a milestone for our Co-op, and one that should be celebrated by all as an amazing achievement, the impact of which will be felt by the community for many years to come. 

As we stand at the beginning of this new chapter in our history, it is important to remember that this project would not have been possible without the generous support the Co-op’s Owners. In particular, the 160 Owners who contributed a total of $1,375,000 to the Co-op in the form of interest bearing loans. While this is common practice in the capitalization of cooperative businesses, this is truly a record breaking feat for our Co-op, and on behalf of the entire Co-op community, I say thank you. Thank you for believing and investing in your Co-op! You are all truly the unsung heroes of the hour, and we would not be here without you.
Presently, the Co-op team, our general contractor and all of our subcontractors are hard at work preparing for a May 1st open date. It takes a lot to build a grocery store with over 185 linear feet of refrigeration equipment and over 400 linear feet of grocery shelves to install. As reported in my last update, project costs have risen due to project delays, engineering challenges and an increase in the cost of labor and materials. To solve for this, we have just begun approaching Owners for additional loans. 

Our goal is to raise $575,000 in new Owner loans before we open our doors on May 1st. While it is unfortunate to see project costs increase, the silver lining is that the Co-op is able to provide our Owners an additional opportunity to invest in their Co-op and their community. Did you know that our Owner lenders have been paid over $80,000 in interest to date? While the loans are unsecured and subordinate to the asset secured debt, this investment opportunity is a great way for Owners to keep their money local and see a tangible impact in their community as a result of their investment. 

As the Co-op grows in 2019, we plan to hire almost a dozen of your friends and neighbors and increase our purchases of local goods and services to over $2 million. We are raising our minimum wage to $13 per hour on April 1st and will continue to do so well in advance of state mandates as we chart the course for $15 by 2021. The Co-op’s mission of providing real food to our community and doing real good is rooted in creating more cooperative economy. Our new home is critical to this mission and will help the Co-op grow its impact in a big way. If you are an Owner of the Co-op and are interested in learning more about the current Owner loan offering, please reach out to me, Dan Esko, at 413-528-9697, ext. 101 or desko@berkshire.coop.