Our goal: 100 members by Jan 1!

Do you want a downtown grocery?
Do you want to be part of a cooperatively-owned business?
Do you want to support local producers?
Do you want a place to buy healthier food?

Here’s your chance! You can help ring in the new year with progress toward opening a co-op in Bay City. We’re making a push to reach 100 members by midnight Dec. 31.

Our plan is still to fill a glaring void in the downtown area — a full-service grocery. A professional market study conducted for us over the summer found that such a store is indeed viable.

Remember, we now accept $20-a-month payment plans here, through our website. Or a $200 common share can still be paid all at once, either at the website or by mail.

That share is your investment in the co-op; it is not an annual fee. And it covers everyone in a household.

So why join now?

It sounds sensible to say you’ll wait to join until a store seems closer to opening. Why invest money in a shot at a future payoff?

But co-ops don’t work that way. You can’t wait for a big-bucks investor or corporation to come along and take care of it. Co-ops are owned equally by many small investors just like you. When we use the slogan “We own it. You can, too,” we mean it.

Can we actually raise enough money for a store from a lot of people investing just $200 each? Not likely. Co-ops typically still need loans to get off the ground. But securing loans — which could come from various sources — requires that we put up a chunk of money ourselves. Also, a strong member base shows a commitment to patronize a store. Successful co-ops around the country have opened by raising money exactly in this way.

The bottom line is that the sooner you join, the sooner we can open.

What’s the difference between being a co-op “member” and an “owner”?

Answer: Absolutely nothing. We’ve used the terms interchangeably. Some co-ops use the term “member-owner” or “owner-member.” We haven’t usually done that, perhaps because it sounds bureaucratic or confusing.

A co-op member is really an owner of the co-op, with voting rights. If we talk about “joining” the co-op, “member” just seems like the natural word to use. If we talk about investing in the co-op, “owner” sounds more appropriate.

And hey, what about that downtown “marketplace”?

It sounds like it’ll be a good addition to downtown.

Yes, we’ve discussed the prospect of becoming part of the marketplace or linking ourselves with the marketplace or another local venture. And we don’t rule anything out.

But we still come back to our first point: We need more members (or owners, if you prefer!) before we can be serious about setting up shop.

The owners help provide money to cover the things needed to start any business — marketing, professional advice, legal costs — and, eventually, building costs, staff, goods to sell, etc. Owners have a voice in big decisions that the co-op will face. They can run for a seat on the board of directors and vote for board members.

Questions? Comments?

You can contact the co-op via email anytime at info@baycityfood.org or via message on our Facebook page.

In the meantime, we hope you’ll become a co-op member soon! (if you haven’t already!)