Friendship Store FAQ

General Co-op Questions

What is a co-op?
Do I need to be an owner to shop at the co-op?
Will my Seward Co-op ownership be valid at both locations?
Who is available to answer our questions?
What can I do to support Seward Co-op and the Friendship site project?
How does co-op ownership work?
How can I invest/purchase Class C stock?

What is a co-op?
Cooperatives are member-owned, member-governed businesses that operate for the benefit of their owners, according to common principles agreed upon by the international cooperative community. In a co-op, owners pool resources to bring about economic results unobtainable by one person alone. A cooperative is 1) voluntarily owned by the people who use it, and 2) operated for the benefit of its owners. (return to General Co-op Questions or top)

Do I need to be a owner to shop at the co-op?
No. You do not need to be a owner to shop at the co-op, but if you decide to become a owner you will enjoy numerous owner benefits. (return to General Co-op Questions or top)

Will my Seward Co-op ownership be valid at both locations?
Yes. (return to General Co-op Questions or top)

Who is available to answer our questions?
Customer Service staff is always available to answer questions. These staff will either answer questions to the best of their ability, or refer your question to the appropriate staff person. Members of the board of directors will also be in the store discussing this and other issues with co-op owners. The next dates are posted on the board bulletin board in the co-op’s seating area. Current information about the project will be available on our online projects page. (return to General Co-op Questions or top)

What can I do to support Seward Co-op and the Friendship site project?
* Become an owner!
* Talk with your neighbors.
* Share your feedback and questions in the store with board members.
* Purchase non-voting Class C stock in Seward Community Co-op.
(return to General Co-op Questions or top)

How does co-op ownership work?
Seward Co-op ownership will be valid at both locations. If the Friendship site is geographically close to your home and you anticipate regularly shopping there, consider becoming an owner now. We offer multiple options for purchasing ownerships: a full one-time purchase of ownership for $75; an installment plan of three payments ($27/$24/$24); and a reduced-initial-investment option ($15) for those who meet needs-based criteria. Visit Customer Service to ask questions or to make your ownership investment. (return to General Co-op Questions or top)

How can I purchase Class C stock?
Any owner of Seward Co-op can purchase Class C stock in increments of $500 at any time. This additional stock builds the co-op’s equity, making our position stronger when applying for bank financing. To purchase Class C stock, please visit the Customer Service desk at the Franklin store. (return to General Co-op Questions or top)

Project Questions

Why are you building a second store?
How was this decision made?
Will co-op owners have input into the project/process?
Why did you choose this neighborhood?
What is the Greater Friendship Baptist Church?
What is the Sabathani Community Center?
What is Southside Community Health?
How will this impact the community/neighborhood?
How will the new store impact existing businesses in the area?
Why is the co-op adding a second store?
What will the new store be called?
Why are you going to keep “Seward” in the name? It is a different neighborhood.
What will be different at new store?
How will it be financed?
How can I invest?

Why are you building a second store??
Our success since moving to the Franklin Ave. store five years ago has put us in the position to expand access to the co-op and bring healthy food to a new neighborhood. We have continued to improve our existing store, but we have reached capacity. A second store will provide easier access to the co-op for owners who live in other neighborhoods, as well as relieve some of the congestion at the current location. (return to Project Questions or top)

How was this decision made?
The decision to pursue this site was a decision made by the board on the recommendation of the General Manager and his leadership team. The idea to build a second business is one that came out of a three year process including staff, management and the board. (return to Project Questions or top)

Will co-op owners have input into the project/process?
Yes. Owners of Seward Co-op, along with its staff and board, have been able to participate in a community process that will enable the co-op to gather feedback on our plans for the store. This feedback has informed our decision making process. (return to Project Questions or top)

Why did you choose this neighborhood?
About 15% of our current Ownership resides within a couple of miles of this location. Over the past several years, our board has considered how Seward can improve access to healthy foods – not just to existing owners, but to new communities. Our owners have consistently expressed a strong preference for the co-op to expand to underserved areas. (return to Project Questions or top)

What is the Greater Friendship Baptist Church?
The primary real estate is owned by the Greater Friendship Baptist Church (GFBC). The church, originally called the Greater Sabathani Mission Baptist Church, was established in 1959 in the area to provide activities for youth and build a strong community. The GFBC has moved to a new home further east on 38th Street, but it shares the co-op’s vision of bringing greater food access to the community. (return to Project Questions or top)

What is the Sabathani Community Center?
The Sabathani Community Center was founded in 1966 by concerned residents and members of Sabathani Baptist Church in South Minneapolis. It moved to its current location (across the street from the Friendship site) in 1979. Its mission is to provide people
of all ages and cultures with essential resources that inspire them to improve their lives and build a thriving community. (return to Project Questions or top)

What is Southside Community Health?
Southside Community Health is located on 42nd Street and 4th Avenue. Its mission is to provide people of all ages and cultures with essential resources that inspire them to mprove their lives and build a thriving community. (return to Project Questions or top)

How will this impact the community/neighborhood?
We believe this will have a very positive impact by increasing food access to an underserved community in which many Seward Co-op owners live. We believe we will create jobs and be a stabilizing force in the West Powderhorn area. (return to Project Questions or top)

How will the new store impact existing businesses in the area?
We do not expect the new store to negatively impact other businesses in the area. Our Franklin store has revitalized the corner of Riverside and Franklin Avenues, bringing more people to the area. (return to Project Questions or top)

Why is the co-op adding a second store?
Our current store is tremendously successful. A second store is in alignment with our Ends Statement to sustain a healthy community. By building a second store, we are expanding access to the co-op and to healthy food. We envision growing a healthy food culture by placing our products, gathering spaces, and services within walking or biking distance for those in underserved areas. (return to Project Questions or top)

What will the new store be called?
Because the site is now owned by the Greater Friendship Baptist Church, an organization which shares our goal of a healthy community, we’re going to call the store the "Friendship" store. We believe this name captures the spirit of the relationships we are building. Our location will be called the "Franklin" store. (return to Project Questions or top)

Why are you going to keep “Seward” in the name? It is a different neighborhood.
We believe "Seward Co-op" has become a well-known and trusted name that extends beyond a geographical neighborhood. It encompasses the 40+ years of our cooperative history. If we are able to realize a second store, the stores will be in different locations, but will have a shared identity. (return to Project Questions or top)

What will be different at new store?
Because this is only a project proposal, it is too early to know what physical features will differ between the two stores. As with the Franklin store, Seward Co-op strives to serve our community by offering the healthy and sustainably-produced products and healthy lifestyle information that our customers want and need. (return to Project Questions or top)

How has the project been financed?
This project will be financed with a mixture of owner capital (owner loans and Class C stock), city and bank financing. (return to Project Questions or top)

How can I invest?
Any owner of the co-op can purchase Class C stock in increments of $500 at any time. To do so, please visit the Customer Service desk at the Franklin store. (return to Project Questions or top)

Building Questions

When will you begin to build?
Will the Friendship store be a LEED-certified building?
Will the new store have solar panels?
Will the new building be the same green colors as the Franklin store?
Biking parking? Bus route? Will it have Nice Ride MN and HourCar?
Will there be more parking at the new store? How big will the new store be?

When will you begin to build?
We are currently in the property acquisition phase of this project. The duration of the timeline for commercial developments of this scale are measured in years. Construction will begin after all property has been acquired, all neighborhood and city approvals are received, financing has been secured and executed, and the designs and plans have been finalized and approved. Completing these activities could take 18 months to three years. (return to Building Questions or top)

Will the Friendship store be a LEED-certified building?
We are pursuing LEED certification. Our Franklin Avenue store was certified LEED Gold in 2010. We learned a lot about building and operating “green” buildings over the course of the project. Whether or not we pursue LEED certification for the Friendship site, we will incorporate as many green technologies and practices into the project as possible. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. More information can be found in this PDF. ) (return to Building Questions or top)

Will the new store have solar panels?
Whether or not we pursue LEED certification for the Friendship site, we will incorporate as many green technologies and practices into the project as possible. (return to Building Questions or top)

Will the new building be the same green colors as the Franklin store?
We will retain some of the same green color elements as we have at the Friendship store. The colors and design of our Franklin store, along with our tree logo and leaves motif, have made the co-op a landmark building in Seward. (return to Building Questions or top)

Biking parking? Bus route? Will it have Nice Ride MN and HourCar?
The Friendship site is located on multiple bus routes: numbers 11, 23, and 133. We will include as many bike parking spaces and other alternative transportation options as possible. (return to Building Questions or top)

Will there be more parking at the new store? How big will the new store be?
At this point, we are still in the property acquisition phase. Until we have a full site we won’t know how big the store will be. New urban full-service grocery stores are typically challenged by limited space. The design of the new store will balance the need to offer a full range of products and services while also providing adequate parking and alternative transportation options. (return to Building Questions or top)

Operations Questions

Did you ask owners about this?
Will ownership cost the same?
Will prices at the co-op go up?
Will you carry conventional products at the new store?
Will the new store offer services that aren’t available at the Franklin store?
Why not a delivery service?
Will there be a shuttle between stores?
Is the co-op ready to be a two-store operation?
When will there be a co-op in my area?
Did you work with other co-ops in deciding to do this?
How will this impact the Wedge?
Will the SEED program carry over to new location? And grants, sponsorships, etc.?
Can I return products purchased at one store to the other?
Will I be able to afford to shop there?
Aren’t co-ops expensive?
What are you doing about access for low income families?
When will you be hiring?
How many jobs will a second store create?
Will you have two General Managers, two boards of directors, and/or two Store Managers?
How will the new store impact sales at the Franklin store?
Why aren’t you lowering prices with the money you are spending on another store?
Will this store impact my patronage refund?

Did you ask owners about this?
Yes. Over the past three years, the co-op has conducted multiple owner surveys and held several focus groups. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Will ownership cost the same?
Yes. We offer multiple options for purchasing ownerships: a full, one-time purchase of ownership for $75; an installment plan of three payments ($27/$24/$24); and a reduced-initial-investment option ($15) for those who meet needs-based criteria. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Will prices at the co-op go up?
No. The costs associated with building a new store will not impact prices of products. Retail prices are driven by several factors, including costs of goods from vendors, and costs for product ingredients, packaging and transportation. Weather events that impact product availability can also contribute to price increases. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Will you carry conventional products at the new store?
We will have a mix of some conventional products along with our long time focus on natural foods. At this point, we have not made any definitive decisions regarding which products we will carry. That will come after construction starts. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Will the new store offer services that aren’t available at the Franklin store?
At this point we have not made any definitive decisions regarding what new or different services we will offer. We don’t anticipate any major changes in our current goods and services. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Why not a delivery service?
At this point we have not made any definitive decisions regarding what new or different services we will offer. We don’t anticipate any major changes in our current goods and services. Delivery is an unlikely new service option. The costs are too great and would substantially increase our grocery prices. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Will there be a shuttle between stores?
At this point we have not made any definitive decisions regarding what new or different services we will offer. We don’t anticipate any major changes in our current goods and services that we offer. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Is the co-op ready to be a two-store operation?
Yes. Our financial position is sound. The co-op’s Management Team has started preparing the organization to become a multiple location business over the past year. Formal assessments and action plans will be implemented prior to and during construction. (return to Operations Questions or top)

When will there be a co-op in my area?
At this point we are focused on the Friendship site. If we are unable to develop this site, we will consider other locations. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Did you work with other co-ops in deciding to do this?
We consulted with and visited several co-ops, both within the Twin Cities and around the country, that have multiple-store operations. We learned what worked well for these co-ops in planning for and operating a second store, as well as what potential pitfalls to avoid. (return to Operations Questions or top)

How will this impact the Wedge?
We have discussed this project with the Wedge Co-op. They are aware that it will have some impact on their operations. We won’t know the impact until we actually open. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Will the SEED program carry over to new location? And grants, sponsorships, etc.?
Giving back to the community is an important component of Seward Co-op’s culture. Therefore, we intend to instigate SEED and other giving programs at the new location, too. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Can I return products purchased at one store to the other?
Yes. We will continue using our current returns policy in any future locations we may have.

Will I be able to afford to shop there?
We strive to make shopping at Seward Co-op as affordable as possible. We regularly audit many local natural foods stores to compare our prices on hundreds of key items (milk, bread and tomatoes, for example). These audits indicate that our pricing is very competitive overall. Because every store has its own pricing strategy, our prices may be higher on some particular items and lower on others.

Additionally, Seward Co-op offers multiple options for purchasing ownerships: the full one-time purchase of ownership for $75; an installment plan of three payments ($27/$24/$24); and a reduced-initial-investment option ($15) for those who meet needs-based criteria. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Aren’t co-ops expensive?
Prices for local, organic, and fair trade products can be higher than prices on conventionally-produced foods. There may be many reasons why. Some of it is due to federal policy in the Farm Bill. Local and organic producers often do not qualify for crop insurance and other subsidies. Because our Ends Statement compels us to have equitable economic relationships, we price products in a manner that allows us to pay fair prices to producers, pay fair wages to our employees, and bring value to our customers. We price strategically and intentionally in order to ensure the sustainable operation of our co-op.

What are you doing about access for low income families?
We offer a 10% needs-based discount to qualifying owners. Additionally, we have a needs based ownership that allows families to join the co-op for as little as $15. We provide helpful information, including classes, about how to shop the co-op on a budget. We also support the WIC program, which provides nutritional support for low-income pregnant women, infants and children. (return to Operations Questions or top)

When will you be hiring?
We plan on hiring a employees leading up to the opening of the store. We will likely hold a hiring fair a couple of months prior to opening the new store. (return to Operations Questions or top)

How many jobs will a second store create?
As this will be an entirely new location, we anticipate adding a significant number of new positions. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Will you have two General Managers, two boards of directors, and/or two Store Managers?
The co-op will always have one board who will hire one General Manager (GM). The GM will then hire additional staff as needed. This will include a Store Manager at each store. (return to Operations Questions or top)

How will the new store impact sales at the Franklin store?
We can’t know for sure, but we expect the new store to relieve some of the congestion at the Franklin Avenue store. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Why aren’t you lowering prices with the money you are spending on another store?
The investments we make in our facilities support the long-term viability of the co-op by ensuring that we’re meeting the needs of our shoppers. It’s understandable that it seems like we are spending money on something that doesn't directly reduce the price of our products. But without these long-term investments, our ability to continuously adapt to our growing ownership would be compromised. Ultimately, by growing our co-op and the co-op movement, we improve access for our shoppers, farmers, vendors and suppliers. (return to Operations Questions or top)

Will this store impact my patronage refund?
It may. In years in which the co-op is profitable, the board of directors declares a patronage refund. The board decides each year on the percentage of the patronage refund to distribute directly and the percentage that is retained as co-op equity. In the midst of a major expansion project, it is possible that the co-op will not be profitable, and therefore a patronage refund may not be declared. (return to Operations Questions or top)