“The excitement was contagious,” described Clipper City Co-op board member Naomi Raddatz, after attending the Up and Coming Food Co-op Conference in Milwaukee, March 9-11. She joined the rest of the Co-op board of directors to learn about the latest strategies for starting up a food co-op. Clipper City was joined by representatives from 74 other start-up or recently-opened food co-ops from every corner of the country, all sharing experiences with what works and what doesn’t when starting a co-op.
The conference opened with workshops Thursday afternoon. Clipper City board members attended sessions on cooperative board governance, branding and communication, and behind the scenes operations at some of the Outpost Natural Foods Co-op locations in Milwaukee. These training sessions gave the board opportunities to sharpen their roles as co-op leaders.
During the rest of the conference, board members attended many presentations, such as planning for site selection, hiring general managers, and fostering diversity in food co-ops. All of the board members left the conference with a strong understanding of the work that needs to be done to open the doors of our co-op.
Tony Fodden was impressed with the professionalism and enthusiasm of all of the consultants and presenters. Jessica Van Slooten added, “I was inspired to learn about other successful start-ups, meet with co-op consultants, and build a stronger working relationship with my fellow Clipper City Co-op board members.” It was also an added plus that Outpost Natural Foods Co-op provided delicious and nutritious snacks and meals!
Up and Coming was an excellent education opportunity, and Clipper City Co-op is grateful to have received a $500 grant to help cover registration fees for the board to attend the conference. We were one of 28 other co-ops to receive funding made possible through the generosity of the Ralph K. Morris Foundation, the Howard Bowers Fund for Food Co-ops, and Food Co-op Initiative. In addition, funds from our 2015 $10,000 seed grant from the Food Co-op Initiative covered remaining costs.
~Albert Sears, Clipper City Co-op Secretary, and Co-op Owner #14