Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is a food co-op?
A: Food co-ops are neighborhood grocery stores that go the extra mile. They are locally owned
and community grown. Clipper City will be a full-service grocery store that stocks as much local,
organic, and healthy food as possible. When you purchase a share in Clipper City Co-op for
$200, you become an owner and have equity in the business. Although anyone will be able to
shop at Clipper City Co-op, it is owned and controlled by the owners. Unlike a business owned
by an individual, family, or a corporation; profits from a cooperative are used to help the store
better serve the community's needs or returned to the owners.
Q: What is the benefit of owning a share in the co-op?
A: Buying a share in Clipper City Co-op is an investment in the Manitowoc area community, its
health, and its economic well-being. The co-op is organized with one class of capital stock:
Class A stock is the ownership stock of the co-op. One of the most important reasons current
owners have joined is because they want to help improve Manitowoc community. In addition,
co-ops support local farmers by providing them a place to sell their meat and produce
year-around. By investing in a share of the business, you will also have the opportunity to share
in the decisions and operations of the co-op. Owners can give input on business decisions, run
for the board, and vote in important co-op decisions. If the co-op shows a profit, owners may
receive that money back in a patronage dividend. Simply put, a co-op is an opportunity for
people with similar needs to pool their capital together to fill those needs. Currently, monthly
owner perks are offered to our owners at various businesses throughout Manitowoc County.
Q: Why do co-ops matter?
A: Co-ops are locally owned by you and about 1000 of your neighbors. Co-ops are about
helping us all engage more with our communities to make them better places. Co-ops create
jobs. Co-ops improve the local economy. Co-ops stimulate the creation of other small
businesses. Co-ops become a hub for learning and building relationships. Co-ops provide their
owners opportunities to take active roles in building the business and meeting the co-op’s
missions. Co-ops introduce eaters to growers. Co-ops care about health and well-being.
Q: How much does it cost to be an owner?
A: The Class A Membership (aka Ownership) stock is issued to a person or household for $200.
At this point in co-op development we accept incremental payments towards full ownership,
Updated 8/28/17 including a $20 per month option for ten months, quarterly payments of $50 or payment in full.
Q: What will my $200 be used for?
A: The funds are used to open to store. Funds are necessary to complete a feasibility study,
conduct community surveys, print material for community outreach, and build partnerships with local producers. In addition, funds are needed to build leadership, hire consultants, and
undertake other necessary operations to work responsibly towards opening a cooperative
grocery store in Manitowoc. Clipper City Co-op operates on cooperative principles and
transparency is essential. All operating decisions and accounting of money spent will be made
available upon written request, or provided on our website: www.clippercitycoop.com.
Q: When will the co-op open?
A: Clipper City Co-op follows an ownership driven timeline, a time-tested model developed by
the Food Co-op Initiative. A site-selection committee was formed in May 2017, when we
reached 285 owners. Owner equity helps us demonstrate to our primary and secondary lenders
that we are a sustainable project. Owner support is vital to keep us on track to open our doors.
Typically a co-op our size would need 1000 owners to sustain the business. Since we began
selling stock, we have averaged about 125 new owners per year.
Q: Who will be able to shop at the co-op?
A: Everyone will be welcome to shop at Clipper City Co-op, whether an owner or not. An
important aspect of Clipper City Co-op’s mission is providing access to healthy food to all
people, whatever their background. Owners can expect regular discounts.
Q: Where will the co-op be located?
A: The goal is to open the food co-op in downtown Manitowoc, an area determined to have
limited grocery options. Our initial market study was conducted at the end of 2015 by Dakota
Worldwide, a consulting firm that specializes in grocery cooperatives. The study shows that it is
feasible to bring a full service food co-op to Manitowoc. The recommended size of the store is
4500 square feet with 3100 square feet of retail space. Our site selection team began its work
in May 2017. A second market study will be completed when we reach 700 owners.
Q: How is a co-op funded?
A: Cooperatives are financed in a variety of ways. They may get their operating funds from
ownership fees, common or preferred stocks, bonds, by borrowing from banks, or from other
sources. We will begin an owner-loan campaign when we reach our next goal of 750 owners.
Cooperative banks, local lenders, private donors and owners choosing to loan money to the
co-op are all part of our proforma finance plan.
Q: What will happen to money if the co-op fails to open?
A: Owner equity is an unsecured asset in the co-op, and should the co-op fail to open, for any
reason, there is no guarantee that the shares will be paid back. Some money is being used for
printed materials, outreach, and owner-member recruitment. In addition, some money has been used to match the $10,000 grant from Food Co-op Initiative that we were awarded to help pay for the first market study. No money has been used to pay for staff, all work is strictly voluntary at this time. Typically, money would be redistributed to owners as fairly and equitably as possible.