Cooperative Futures and Milestones

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From #107, July-August 2003

The Editor Notes

B Y   D A V E   G U T K N E C H T

Cooperative futures

This year's Cooperative Grocer Retail Operations Survey takes a fresh approach to analyzing retail co-op performance. Our businesses face ever increasing competition as well as unprecedented opportunities to strengthen and develop cooperatives. Departing significantly from the usual close look at the actual numbers, the new report provides a thoughtful look at how food co-ops can grow and evolve more quickly.

The financial results reported are impressive and support prospects for further co-op development. Sales increases continue to be strong, as in past years. Co-ops grew, on a same store basis, by nearly 12 percent, exceeding other competitors. Co-op stores in the survey group also saw improved profitability, averaging net income of over 1.5 percent. This improved bottom line was based on reduced cost of goods as well as continued strong gross margins.

These excellent retail results are the foundation for a look at larger patterns and questions. The concern receiving more attention this year is what to do for the future, given co-ops' continuing sales growth and profitability, because the larger picture in the natural/organic industry is a less comforting one. Natural and conventional chain stores continue to capture the major part of growth in the natural/organic sector. Prospects for co-ops' share-through new stores and expansion of existing co-ops-are the primary focus of this year's report.

I hope readers will retain a focus on these store development issues. This year's report sheds light on important opportunities for expanding and linking food cooperatives.

Editorial futures

We need your ideas! Readers are encouraged to send ideas, topics, and questions for upcoming editorial contents of Cooperative Grocer. This summer is an excellent time to help the editorial board of this publication consider how to address not only larger development issues for co-ops but also success stories, new projects, lessons learned, and questions to be pursued. Please forward your suggestions for future material in Cooperative Grocer.

Cooperative milestones

Each year at the Consumer Cooperative Management Association (see report on the following pages) we honor consumer cooperatives that reach milestones of longstanding services to their members and communities. Congratulations to each of the following co-ops!

90 Years (1913)

  • Rudyard Grocery Co-op--Rudyard, Michigan

25 Years (1978)

  • Central Co-op/Madison Market--Seattle, Washington
  • Community Food Co-op--Bozeman, Montana
  • Paw Paw Food Co-op--Paw Paw, Michigan
  • Rising Tide Market--Damariscotta, Maine
  • River Market/Valley Co-op--Stillwater, Minnesota
  • Valley Natural Foods--Burnsville, Minnesota
  • Winooski Valley Co-op--Plainfield, Vermont


Dave Gutknecht is editor of Cooperative Grocer: [email protected].


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Publisher and Editor: Dave Gutknecht [email protected]
Webmaster: J C Rockwell [email protected]


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