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Free Range Food Co-op

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a Food Co-op?

A food co-op is a grocery store that exists to serve its members, but what makes it unique is that the members are also the owners. In Minnesota, food co-ops are regulated under MN Statute 308B, which lays out the purpose, and requirements of how food co-ops are formed and operated. Co-ops around the world adhere to a set of principles and values that help to guide and set standards for the organization. A food co-op is run similar to a nonprofit, with a democratically elected board made up of co-op owners, elected by owners. This democratic approach to business results in a powerful economic force that benefits the co-op, its members and the communities it serves.

Is this a buying club or a CSA?

No, this will be a physical grocery store, open daily, all year round.

How much does it cost to become an owner?

The cost to become an owner is $100, and there are no annual fees. There are a number of different payment plans to help make it affordable to everyone.

Why should I become an owner now, and what will my investment be used for?

Your ownership in the co-op now will help us open the doors that much sooner. Owner equity investments fulfill the capital needs of the co-op. These needs could include feasibility and market studies, legal fees, consulting fees, construction costs, equipment needs, and other costs related to owner outreach in the community such as rental, printing, and marketing costs. Every owner brings more community support, which is what will make our co-op strong!

Will I have to be an owner to shop at the co-op?

No, everyone will be welcome to shop at the co-op! Whether you are an owner or not, you can expect the same exceptional customer service, and quality products. However, owners will receive additional benefits such as voting rights, and additional discounts.

Is a food co-op a nonprofit?

No, a food co-op is considered a for-profit business. Cooperatives are regulated under MN Statute 308B, which requires the co-op to have a board that has legal obligations in the way it functions. In that respect co-ops are run a lot like a non-profit, but they don't run on investments or donations. We will have to be profitable as a cooperative grocery store in order to be successful.

Does the food co-op board get paid?

No, the current by-laws state that the board of directors for Free Range Food Co-op is an unpaid board.

Are you applying for grants to help get the food co-op open?

Although we are eligible to apply for grants, since we are not a non-profit, we will have to work with a fiscal sponsor. We know of numerous grant possibilities, and are watching deadlines to make sure we file on time. If you know of any grant opportunities, please let us know!

Will I have to work in the store if I join?

No. As we get further along in the development process, a general manager will be hired, and eventually paid employees as the store gets closer to opening. Volunteers will not be expected to staff the store.

What will happen to my investment if the co-op doesn't open?

As with any investment, your ownership share is subject to risk. If the co-op is unsuccessful, the Board of Directors will determine distribution of remaining assets. In this unlikely event, every effort will be made to refund the paid portion of your equity share.

What is the timeline for when the store will open?

We are following a timeline that involves three stages. This timeline lays out guidelines for ownership goals, as well as tasks that should be completed in each stage, before moving on in the development process. Most modern food co-ops take 2-5 years to open. The planning for Free Range Food Co-op started in October 2015. So, in order to have a target date, we have projected fall of 2019 as a goal for opening the store. We have set up a page on the website that clearly lays out the development timeline. To learn more, you can visit that page here.

Where will the co-op be located?

A location has not been chosen for the co-op yet. Once the market and feasibility studies are complete, those results will help us to know the estimated annual retail sales, the size store our community is likely to support, and where in town we would likely be most successful, in addition to other important information.

How can we help make the store open as soon as possible?

• BECOME AN OWNER!

• Keep informed about the co-op through the newsletter, Facebook and Instagram pages, and events calendar.

• Share your co-op support with the people in your life - friends, family, co-workers, church members, civic groups, etc. Distribute co-op flyers and business cards, and share social media posts.

• Contact the organizing team to schedule a presentation for a group or organization.

• Join the organizing team! Email freerangefoodcoop@gmail.com for details about getting involved!