In the past five years, Seward Co-op's ownership has nearly tripled, so it's not surprising that owners have already invested $674,500 -- 27% of our goal -- in Seward's Friendship Store & Franklin Creamery Projects.
But in case you didn't know about Seward's twin expansion projects or haven't heard anything recently, here's a brief recap/update:
1) The Friendship Store -- Groundbreaking for the Friendship Store is slated for this July, and the store could open as early as summer 2015. It will be a full-service natural foods grocery on the corner of 38th St. and 3rd Avenue South. Sometime in July, we'll have a big celebration for the groundbreaking. Stay tuned.
2) The Franklin Creamery on Franklin and 26th Avenues (pictured, from 1924) is being leased by Seward Co-op for badly needed office space (upstairs) and to expand our bakery, sausage and other meat production. The downstairs space may include a small retail café (so much depends on how much investment money we raise).
The Franklin Creamery was a dairy and milk delivery co-op back in the days when nearly all food was local -- and a lot of it was cooperatively owned.
The initial campaign launch to ask Seward owners to invest began on March 11, with the co-op looking to raise at least $2.5 million by June 30, 2014. To do this, we're offering an investment opportunity to owners; we aren't asking for donations, these are stocks and loans with a rate of return.
In short, we're offering Seward owners an opportunity to make money while in turn, empowering their cooperative to grow.
Our target return on investment for what we call "Class C Stock" is 4%, which many owners have reported is a better deal than their credit unions and banks have been offering. "Owner loans" are another option and interest rates for owner loans vary between 3.5–5.5%. More information is available in the offering summary, found in investment packets that you can pick up at the Customer Service Desk in the store. Or, call 612-314-2012 to speak with Jill Livingston, Seward Co-op's Owner Capitalization Coordinator.
We have 75 days to gather $2 million.
How can you help?
1) Become an owner. You can't invest if you aren't an owner (that's the law).
2) Invest. Call Jill and decide what kind of investment is best for you.
3) Spread. The. Word. Do you know other Seward owners? Start talking, sharing links to articles like this one, and encourage them to invest and spread the word, too. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, email, dinner parties. We all have to start talking about how much we can make the Friendship Store and Creamery project a reality.
Because this is how co-ops grow -- you, me, and our neighbors lifting this project up on shoulders. There is no national management or corporate CEO that will swoop in and grow the co-op for us. If Seward is going to grow, we have do it ourselves-- stock by stock, and loan by loan -- old school, just like Franklin Creamery Co-op did it way back in the day.
What do you say? Ready to roll up your sleeves and lend a hand growing a co-op?