Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
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.
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 dividends.Owner perks and discounts are offered to our owners - some pre-store opening and others will be in the store itself.
Q: Why do co-ops matter?
A: Co-ops are abou 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 owners opportunities to take active roles in building the business and meeting the co-op’s
mission. 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 a one time fee of $200.
At this point in co-op development we accept incremental payments towards full ownership, including a $21 per month option for ten months, quarterly payments of $52 (this includes online processing fees) or payment in full.
Q : What will my $200 be used for?
A: 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 cooperativ grocery store in downtown Manitowoc.
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. 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 owner/shoppers to sustain the business. With the robust ownship growth we are hopeful the store can open in 2021.
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.
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. In October 2020 we announced the #1 contender location to be 702 York Street. Active discussions are underway to reach a sustainable lease agreement. 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 possible to bring a full service food co-op to Manitowoc. The recommended size of the store is
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 conduct a capital fundraising campaign which will ask for owner loans, contributions, and gifts from individuals, companies, organizations and foundations.
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 used for printed materials, outreach, and owner-member recruitment.
Q: What does reaching a membership milestone mean for the Co-op? We talk about this a lot in the community. What is the next phase? Is there a timeline?
A: There is a timeline. But instead of using dates (which would be meaningless) it uses the number of owners as a measure of readiness and preparation. Our Marketing Study, which was done in 2015, analyzed the grocery market in this area and recommended what types of criteria we need to consider in our site selection process, including that we would need a minimum number of 750 owner/shoppers to make such a store financially sustainable. So this becomes the number at which we can begin Stage 3 of the co-op development – Implementation. And the Implementation Phase begins with recruiting a General Manager, capital campaign and beginning negotiations with a prospective landlord.
Q. Do I need to volunteer at the co-op if I am an owner?
A: No, being a volunteer is not an obligation of ownership. The store will have a great team of paid, local employees. However, the co-op is always in need of volunteers for a variety of jobs that need to be done. If you are interested, please sign up by going to the More page and clicking on Volunteer. We'd love to have you!
Q: Where is Clipper City Co-op located?
Until we secure an absolute site for the store, we do have a temporary office at 814 S. 8th Street, Manitowoc. We are thankful to Scott Retzak for sharing this wonderfully visible space with us.
NOTE: As of now, our office must be closed to the public, but you can reach us by phone or text at 920-905-7334 or or by this website.