Annual Owners Meeting: A Great Success!
A week ago Monday evening (February 27th), less than two and a half years after organizers first sat down to talk about starting a co-op in Racine, more than 125 Owners attended Wild Root Market’s first Annual Owners Meeting at First Presbyterian Church. Pastor Ben Johnston-Krase, himself a Founding Owner, was pleased to host the event. Owner Lou Staeck coordinated the planning and gathered a great group of supporters to manage the hospitality. Our deepest thanks to all who made this evening a success!
On the agenda were two matters of business:
1. Board candidate elections for three seats where terms were expiring as set out in our bylaws; and
2. Ratification of the bylaws.
We're pleased to announce our bylaws were formally ratified and Founding Owners Marcia Buhler and Brian Ray were newly elected to the Board (replacing Amanda Paffrath and Mark Paffrath, whose terms expired). In addition, Heidi Fannin, an original organizer, was re-elected to a second term.
The extraordinary level of attendance at our first Annual Owners Meeting is yet another in a series of milestones which continually reinforces the high level of enthusiasm for a community-initiated, cooperatively-owned grocery store. In August, when we announced the kick-off of our ownership drive (which, by the way, never ends), we asked the public for financial support (in the form of buying Ownership shares) in order to fund necessary development expenses. Despite finding ourselves in the midst of difficult economic times, 242 folks bought shares in Wild Root Market just in that month alone! We later learned this response is unprecedented nationwide in the co-op world. Then in November, our Board put out a call to action, asking Owners to help with some of the "heavy lifting" of behind-the-scenes activities that are necessary to bring the co-op to fruition. Today, our organizing
team is made up of close to 40 committed and energetic people offering an amazing array of skills and a willingness to roll up their sleeves and help us get done what needs to get done.
Going forward, the Board will continue to focus on finalizing site selection and the financial pro-forma, developing a solid business plan and securing necessary funding. There's still a steep hill to climb, but with your help, we will get there!
Our Goal: 1,500
While the market study for each of our potential locations indicates sufficient sales projections and, despite the fact that co-op consultants suggest we should have 1,000 Owners by the time we open our doors, we have decided to set the marker at 1,500 Owners by open. The reason for this is the market study also indicated that our community's demographics are just south of "ideal" when it comes to the typical co-op shopper and we want to assure Wild Root Market's success by coming out of the gate with a higher-than-generally-called-for number of Owners. (As an aside, you will soon be able to track our ownership recruitment progress on our soon-to-be-launched, newly-revised website! Stay tuned.)
There's definitely a food revolution beginning to percolate in the Racine/Kenosha area as evidenced by the increasing popularity of farmer's markets, the increased availability of natural foods even at conventional, big box grocery stores and the growing recognition of organizations like Eat Right Racine,
Roots and Legends, Nutritional Designs and Pharmacy, Molbeck's and, most recently, Greater Grain Gluten-Free Goods
(just to name a few). We're thrilled at the success of these, and many other, such organizations because it shows a growing demand for and awareness around improved food and, subsequently, health choices! The more these options, the better the positive economic impact their success has within our communities.
So join us today. Doing so (and encouraging your circles of family, friends and colleagues to do the same) will get the doors open that much sooner. And for those of you still on the fence because you want to know where Wild Root Market is going to be located before you jump in, recognize that the sites under consideration are all within a less-than-three-mile radius of one another! Racine just isn't that big folks. And when it all boils down, the good news is that Racine and Kenosha are going to have a full service grocery store co-op! Yay!
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