Items tagged with 'Troy Food Co-op'
The Pioneer Market -- The Troy Community Food Co-op -- closed Saturday. The co-op emailed members the news Saturday night and posted a message on the org's Facebook page. (The email is pasted in full after the jump.)
The co-op had reportedly seen a bump in traffic lately because of the opening of the nearby City Station mixed-use development. But it wasn't enough. From the email: "While the co-op has had some good days, our monthly sales still remained well below the level we needed to make the co-op a sustainable business. We lost money every month during our first year, and essentially we have run out of cash."
By many accounts the market got off to a rough start when it opened in October 2010, and it made appeals to members on multiple occasions to help keep it afloat. In July it warned that closure could come soon.
The idea for the co-op was a good one -- downtown Troy lacked a supermarket, and the co-op held the promise of a consistent source of healthy food for the area. But the execution seems to have been uneven. As Mike Avent -- who joined the co-op's board this past summer -- explained in a Soapbox piece here on AOA in July:
The reality is that the co-op has never been on firm footing. In some ways, every day we've been open has been a minor miracle. I believe we opened the co-op with the minimum amount of capital needed to get the doors open. We have been in a slow moving crisis ever since. Undoubtedly, board and owners patted themselves on the back for a job well done when we should have scrambled as if the fate of the co-op depended on it.
There's a meeting for owners planned for November 1 at the Christ Church United Methodist at 7 pm to discuss the closure.
+ The co-op still owes $1.8 million to banks, government agencies, and the Community Loan Fund -- plus what members loaned it. [TU]
+ Of the co-op's cash situation: "The numbers were very stark," said the board president. [Troy Record]
+ The co-op's lenders are trying to find someone to re-open the market. [TU]
This past Sunday on the Soapbox, Leah offered suggestions to the struggling Troy Food Co-op -- and used the market's situation to look at the broader issue of gentrification in Troy. Her post prompted a lot of discussion, some of it pointed. Here's a response from one of the co-op's board members.
My name is Mike, and I have been a board member of the Troy Co-op for about 6 weeks. I write to explain our situation and ask for help. Frankly, we need all the help we can get.
There is a misconception that the co-op has narrowly averted a series of catastrophes since opening, and that the latest email represents another bullet to dodge. The reality is that the co-op has never been on firm footing. In some ways, every day we've been open has been a minor miracle. I believe we opened the co-op with the minimum amount of capital needed to get the doors open. We have been in a slow moving crisis ever since. Undoubtedly, board and owners patted themselves on the back for a job well done when we should have scrambled as if the fate of the co-op depended on it.
We're not out of time yet, but there is no margin for error.
Thanks to our owners, the co-op started off reasonably well when it opened last October, and sales increased slowly but steadily through December. Since then, however, sales have declined. Sales were nearly $160,000 in December, but fell to only $134,000 in June. We need sales of at least $175,000 a month to break even. Our loss in June was $18,000. Unless sales improve dramatically, we will be forced to close the co-op in a matter of months.
The full message is after the jump. It says the market's board has "a strategy to address the co-op's financial crisis."
The Pioneer Market, as the co-op is also known, opened last October. And as soon as that December there were already signs of financial trouble. In January of this year, it announced it had gotten a $270,000 loan from the Empire State Development Corporation, and the head of the board of directors said leaders were "cautiously optimistic."
It's sad to see the co-op struggle. We've enjoyed the few times we've shopped there, and there seems to be a need for a market in downtown Troy.
The recently-opened Troy Food Co-op, which apparently has been on shaky financial ground, announced late last week that it's gotten a $270k loan from the Empire State Development Corporation. From the email sent out to members:
We have good news to share with you! The Empire State Development Corporation's loan for $270,000 has been released to the Pioneer Food Market. This planned-for capital is the culmination of hundreds of hours of work by your Finance Committee, beginning in early 2009. The best part of this news is that this is a "convertible loan", meaning that if the market reaches employment goals in its next five years of operations, the loan is fully converted into a grant...and we will owe nothing!
The full email is after the jump. It reports the co-op is getting some outside consulting help, and will be focusing on marketing and outreach. It also says sales to member owners have increased (the co-op had been pushing for owners to shop more at the market).
The head of the market's board of directors tells the TU that the co-op still needs to secure more funding, but "We're cautiously optimistic."
Also: In a nod to 1/11/11, Troy Food Co-op is offering 11 percent off on purchases today.
(Thanks, person who sent this to us)
Earlier on AOA: A first look at the new Troy Food Co-op
Reading between the lines, the takeaways are:
* Sales to members were over-projected by quite a lot. Members are now asked to actively adapt their shopping habits and "Buy co-op first." That's fine, and I'll do it, but this wasn't acknowledged as a [bad and predictable] misjudgment. Of course many members join only to register support, probably more than half. A simple Zip Code analysis would have revealed the subset of "member-owners" capable of being reliable patrons. Member affluence is also seemingly over-estimated, as if each represents a suburban multi-person household. Blue skies and granola, baby.
* There are boons in the pipeline. Certain loans and grants are in play, as is assistance from regional co-ops. This is good, cuz it's all about getting over the fiscal sustainability hump before the clock runs out. Outreach to lower-income and hyper-local populations hasn't gotten off the ground yet, so the true sweet spot is still out there to capture.
* Short revenue currently eats payroll. This tells two tales: exuberant staffing in correction, and some room for additional cost cutting. Sounds like there are still some bucks to carve out of payroll if the road to equilibrium demands it. Probably will.
So, much as I dislike the Kool-aid management model, Buy Co-op First. Sounds like the hump can maybe be cleared, but it'll take immediate membership purchasing support, starting now.
Also from the meeting: the co-op says about half of the market's 900 members have been shopping there. But the board's president says the recent media attention had led to the three best shopping days ever at the market this past weekend. [WNYT] [Troy Record]
(Thanks to Lou for the update)
Problems at the Troy Food Co-op?
From a recent email sent out to Troy food co-op members:
The cold hard fact is that in October, only 38% of sales came from you. When we began this journey in September 2005, we knew our business success depended on sales from the Co-op's owners who invested dollars and volunteer time. As our financial situation continues to worsen, we're wondering where YOUR shopping dollars are. We need all of you, the owners, to spend a minimum of $30.00/week (or more!) to meet our weekly sales requirement to remain viable.
It's sad to hear the co-op might be having problems. The market just opened in October -- pretty much everything we've heard about it has been generally positive. And downtown Troy really needed a supermarket.
Update December 10: the head of the co-op's board of directors tells Chris Churchill: "We're laden with debt, and we knew we would be ... But we thought we could depend on our members to help us make our sales figures and that has not happened." She also said the co-op was planning on getting a loan that hasn't come about. [TU]
Earlier on AOA: A first look at the new Troy Food Co-op
(Thanks, person who forwarded us this)
After much anticipation the Pioneer Food Market, also known as the Troy Community Food Co-op (or just the Troy Co-op), opened its doors Tuesday in downtown Troy. The area has been without a full grocery store for a long time. And having a place to buy wholesome and healthful foods downtown once again will surely improve the community.
You could feel the excitement of the people in the new store. Shoppers were going around saying things like, "This is a great thing for Troy." Upon seeing a little girl being pushed in a shopping cart, one patron wistfully said (with seemingly a sense of great hope for the future), "She won't remember a time before there was a co-op in Troy."
I have never felt this sense of civic pride emanating from within a grocery store. Ever.
The Pioneer Food Market co-op reports that it's nearing completion on construction and is aiming for a soft opening in late September.
If you want to check out how things are coming along at the new market in downtown Troy, there's a public preview Friday at 10 am, and then later on during Troy Night Out from 5-9 pm.
The co-op reports that 760 people have invested in the project -- and it's continuing to look for more loans from individuals.
The Troy Food Co-op announced today that construction will begin on the old Pioneer Market June 1 -- and the new co-op is aiming to open this fall. (Full release after the jump.)
The org didn't actually own the building until just this week. The co-op says the property was being held by one of the market's founders, Alane Hohenberg. It says it closed on the property Monday.
The co-op had been hoping to start construction earlier this year and open this summer. Apparently it took a little longer to line up the funding, which includes a mix of private and public money.
Downtown Troy hasn't had a supermarket since 2005.
Update: The Record's Cecelia Martinez has more details.