One year ago:
- We had raised $572,211 of our $1.6 million Capital Campaign goal.
- We were at 1,107 member-owners
- Our lease had a contingency requiring us to successfully complete our capital campaign.
- We heard the market for hiring a General Manager was competitive.
So much has shifted over the past 12 months, but one thing has not: our community's dedication to opening a member-owned grocery store in Oshkosh.
Here are a few of the ways we continued to strengthen local economies, promote health, and build communities and our milestones along the way.
Completing our 1.6 million dollar Capital Campaign. With over 600 member-owners and community leaders participating, we raised $1,615,830 towards our start-up costs, prompting the Board of Directors to vote to move ahead with our lease at the Brio Building.
Building our store. Groundbreaking at the Brio Building began in July. If you've driven by the corner of Jackson and Pearl lately, you can see the 5 story building is rising quickly! The buildout of our store will begin in the first quarter of 2021, with a tentative store opening in the third quarter of 2021.
Gaining over 325 new member-owners. Although the majority of our member-owners live in Oshkosh, our reach and support continue to spread throughout the Fox Valley, and as far away as Ireland! Being the first food co-op grocery store in Northeast Wisconsin is something we are so proud of. Thank you to ALL for your support this year. Your membership matters.
Reaching our neighbors. Our Food Justice Team has been working toward its purpose: "Advocating for inclusion, diversity, and equity in all aspects of co-op work." The team has conducted two focus groups (with more to come) with communities currently underrepresented in our membership and leadership, to gain input regarding store design, product offerings, and cultural needs. They also distributed over 500 door hangers inviting neighborhood residents to participate in phone interviews.
Enlisting the help of industry experts. We hired Retail Planit, a Wisconsin based, female-owned grocery design firm to design our store, Kevin O'Donnell from Seven Roots Cooperative to assist us in planning our Prepared Foods Department, and Thomas Designs as our architect. Thank you to all of the dedicated committee volunteers who are offering their time and expertise to our project this year.
Becoming a member of NCG. Our membership in National Cooperative Grocers will help us strengthen our purchasing power, optimize our operational and marketing strategies and offer valuable mentorship as we open and run our store.
Being awarded a $155,050 in grant funding. Our grants team has been working hard over the past 3 years to find opportunities for our project. Their dedication and work resulted in a fantastic year, including a $145,000 federal Healthy Food Finance Initiative grant that will fund our produce department and point-of-sale system that will accept SNAP benefits. (A special shoutout to grants team members Sam Larson, Emily Dieringer Reible, Kim Biedermann, Sylvia McDonald and Treasurer Peter Westort for their efforts on this grant.)
Hiring an experienced general manager. Welcome Jeffrey Thouron! We know this is a key role for our store and our Hiring Team did an incredible job. Jeffrey and his family will be relocating to Oshkosh NEXT WEEK from Rapid City, South Dakota where Jeffrey worked at the Breadroot Natural Foods Co-op . Jeffrey started his food co-op career as a volunteer in 2012. Recognizing the power of the cooperative business model, he began working at Breadroot as the produce manager, was quickly promoted to assistant manager and became the general manger is 2013.
Some of his accomplishments include reaching $3M in annual revenue, with an average annual growth rate of 10-15%, growth from a few employees to more than 20, instituting an employee benefits program and acceptance into NCG. We look forward to Jeffrey's leadership in 2021.