When a food co-op wants to raise money and move into larger digs, what could be more natural than turning to its members and
community for help?
Folks at Goodside Grocery, the city's only grocery co-op, are trying to raise $30,000 to move from its current location behind Paradigm Coffee House to a storefront on North Eighth Street.
Goodside, located at 810 St. Clair Ave., is a volunteer-run grocery cooperative that offers local and responsibly sourced food including meat, produce, dairy, grains and dry goods.
It opened in May of 2011 and has about 300 active members who pay $35 per year for a membership.
Using the crowdfunding site www.indiegogo.com, the leaders of Goodside are trying to raise $15,000 in donations to go with another $15,000 they've already raised so they can qualify for a $30,000 matching grant from Buy Local Buy Wisconsin.
Buy Local Buy Wisconsin is a state grant program that provides funds to encourage the sale of local food.
The plans are to move into the former vacuum cleaner store at 1131 N. Eighth St., which would offer about three times the space the grocery currently has, said Jenny Conrardy, co-founder and vice president of Goodside.
"We're very small right now so tripling is going from 600 square feet to about 1,600 to 1,800 square feet," she said. "That's not huge, it's still a corner store, still a neighborhood entity, but for us it's enormous. We'd have a proper storefront so we'd have a proper presence in the neighborhood."
In the last year, sales at Goodside have grown by about 25 percent, Conrardy said. Prior to that, sales were steady but didn't show a lot of growth.
Conrardy said that's partly due to her maternity leave, the end of which coincided with the beginning of a growth spurt at Goodside.
If the current trajectory continues, she said, the store is expected to grow between 25 and 50 percent again next year.
Moving to the larger location would also mean hiring three employees — its first paid staff, she said.
"We want to be able to grow even more than that but that's where we would be starting," she said. "For us that's so exciting and such a relief. We think it would offer a greater level of consistency and customer service to people."
Heidi Hess has served as Goodside's events coordinator for the past six months, overseeing its educational efforts to help people understand the importance of local food and the grocery's mission.
"Part of Goodside's mission is to educate the community," Hess said. "With it being a co-op, to provide events, provide resources for people to learn more about local foods and everything that goes with that. It's a lot more than a grocery store, which is part of what makes it as exciting as it is."
With the expansion, Hess said, would come expanded educational offerings such as workshops on topics such as cooking, gardening and how to use the items sold at Goodside.
In October, Hess organized a movie night and showed "Connected by Coffee," a documentary about coffee co-ops. The event was co-sponsored by Four Corners of the World, a Milwaukee store that sells fair trade and eco-friendly products.
"Our biggest mission is to kickstart our involvement in the community and get people interested," Hess said. "There's so many different facets of the co-op and of local and sustainable food. It really goes a lot further than you think it does."
Conrardy said the move will help the grocery expand both its retail operation and its educational mission.
"When we started, we wanted to focus really heavily on education, but being volunteer-run and being a grocery store, we've been able to manage doing events on a moderate scale," Conrardy said. "With the new store and staff, we're really hoping to expand our educational piece of our program because that's really important to us."
Posted from : http://www.sheboyganpress.com/story/news/local/2014/12/09/goodside-grocery-seeks-move-expand-via-crowdfunding-site/20170885/