1. What is a natural foods co-op?
A natural foods co-operative is a grocery store specializing in whole, healthy foods, and is organized business-wise as a co-operative. Many times these co-operatives are worker owned, but many times community members are owners of their local food co-op as well. Natural food co-ops, like the Mariposa Natural Foods Co-operative in Philadelphia, the Community Food Co-op in Bozeman (MT), and the Rainbow Grocery Co-operative in San Francisco, tend to specialized in organic, local, seasonal, and high quality produce, sustainably farmed meats and dairy products, free-range chicken and eggs, and locally crafted wholesale products like hummus, salsa, and syrups.
2. What required knowledge or skills are necessary?
Forming a co-operative business requires several people to organize around a central principle of shared resources and ownership. There are good resources available to help you start a co-operative (fuller plan will have ample guides for this setup). A knowledge of the food industry, retailing, wholesale management, and inventory of perishable goods will be good for anyone interested in starting a worker owned co-op. Aside from management, the work itself is strenuous and requires that workers be able to be on their feet for extended periods of time, and be able to lift up to 25 pounds.
3. How much money is required to start?
$$ (on a scale of $ to $$$$$)
4. What is the income potential?
$$ (on a scale of $ to $$$$$)
5. What is the best location for a natural foods co-op?
Urban (best), semi-urban (very good), suburbs (good), rural (fair).
6. Three best questions to ask yourself to find out if this business is right for you (if you can answer yes to all three, this business might be for you):
Do you have several people interested in becoming worker-owners in a partnership whose organizing structure is atypical of the American business community?
Do you have a passion for healthy food?
Do you find a lot of your friends and colleagues are interested in community, healthy living, and sustainability, but don’t have a better alternative for grocery shopping than a traditional supermarket or perhaps a Whole Foods?
Interested in starting one in your community? Where do you begin? What permits do you need? Who is your target customer? How do you find them? What is the best use of your limited advertising dollars? What’s the best way to attract a great employee or volunteer? What does an average day look like? What strategic tips do veteran eco-entrepreneurs suggest for startups like you?
There’s a lot to think about. Rest easy. Our mission is to help you succeed, so drop us a line (Info@GreenBusinessVillage.com). We’ll get you a business planning document to get you on your way for ONLY $199! We also guarantee our work, so if you are not satisfied, you get your money back!*
Take a look at a sample table of contents and a few sample excerpts from similar plans here. In essence, we’ll provide you the What, When, Where, and How…you provide the Who!
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