Detroit's Cass Corridor Food Co-op Expands, Encounters Competition

Cass Corridor Co-op, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in the summer of 2002, relocated in late September after many years in a small, rented facility with 1,700 retail square feet. Now the co-op owns its store and has 4,000 sq. ft. in selling space and room to expand.

Several weeks and $500,000 later, the store is still a long way from being complete. We have learned that a move of this magnitude must be well coordinated and properly advertised to sustain the sales of our previous location. Initially we lost sales in some of our key areas. Our biggest loss was in the produce section. Sales in the produce and refrigerated sections declined due to poor timing of installation of equipment. Computer equipment also failed, and many times we were left with one register and 15 customers.

During our move many members shopped at other health food stores that touted lower prices. We need to reevaluate and restructure our pricing policy and pricing procedures that have not changed with the industry.

The co-op has gained new space and with that space new insight on the changes in the market. We face competition that was not around 20 years ago. Local chain stores as well as some of the smaller stores are carrying items that have been staples at the co-op for years.

Our grand opening commended on November 10, and with it came a new and broader customer base.  People in the surrounding community who had no exposure to health food came out and experienced what the co-op is all about.

Since then, several people have returned with praises thanking the co-op for changing their diets and changing their lives. People are coming from all over to see and shop at our new location despite the distance from their homes. The co-op has a lot to offer, and people want to be part of it.

We have additional space for leasing to other businesses and hope it blossoms into a holistic health center serving the membership and the surrounding community.  The co-op is here to serve the community -- as our motto says, "Food for people not for profit."

For more information, plese contact Ellyn N. Gray, 313-832-38656. or General Manager Gari Freeman, 383-831-7452.


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