For the past thirteen years, Just Food has dedicated itself to being a community center for Northfield. More than groceries, Just Food has sought to support local farmers and producers, bolster a healthy community by contributing to area nonprofits, and provide good jobs to area residents. We want to do more. We should do more, and we can, with the help of our supportive Owners.
Fairly soon, Just Food will be asking our Owners to help us fund our expansion-in-place. We can finance some of our expansion costs through lenders, but Owner Investments in the Co-op demonstrate a continued commitment to our store. Your investment would help Just Food improve in many needed ways.
We are looking to add nearly 50% more floor space to the store. This means improved layout and expanded product selections, enabling Just Food to be more responsive to product requests. Our biggest, most noticeable improvement would be in our Deli. We are looking to establish a bigger, more functional kitchen that would allow your Co-op to provide more ready-to-eat and take-home foods, and potentially increase our Deli sales 30% or more. There would be more seating as well, including a seating area that could be enclosed for small private functions. The entire store is looking at significant revenue growth over the first eighteen months post expansion.
Expansion will also help us to install more energy efficient coolers, both on the floor and in the back room. The back rooms would be laid out to better utilize existing space and reduce overcrowding in high traffic work areas. Replacing outdated and inefficient appliances and fixtures improves safety and reduces our overall carbon footprint.
This expansion is not just about improving our profit, however. You, our Owners, have asked for many of the items we intend to improve. We want these things as well, and not just to remain competitive in today’s grocery market. Just Food has always been about more than just food. Our partnership with The Key, for example, improves the food security for many of Northfield’s youth by providing the organization with food to distribute and use and a kitchen in which they can prepare it. Our participation with SNAP benefits and WIC has been enhanced with the addition of our new Community Discount Program, which helps families gain better access to more good food on a restrictive budget. Just Food and its Owners donated almost $18,000 to area nonprofits last year, and redeemed Planet Patches representing over 48,000 bags reused. We are Northfield’s community co-op, and we want to be a focal point of your daily lives. We want to take part in the needs of the community, to serve in any capacity that fits our ability to do so. To do more of these good works, expansion is necessary.
An expansion like this needs financial support from the owners. The Third Cooperative Principle – Economic Participation – extols the need for Owners to support the development of their Co-op. We are hoping to raise $1,500,000 – or more – from our over 3100 active member households. The budget for updating our failing and outdated equipment alone is projected to cost around $800,000.
A little over ten years ago, Just Food needed help from our ownership to establish our vision. Through our Roots to Grow campaign, you exceeded expectations and this Co-op firmly established itself as a key member of Northfield’s commerce. We now wish to use those established roots to grow our community and provide more of the things our owners want and need: An expanded sales floor with more options for nourishment. A bigger deli with more options for ready-to-eat and take-home foods. More seating to enjoy your Co-op with friends and family. The ability to provide more good jobs, sell more good food, and do more good in our community. This expansion will only be possible with the continued financial support of our Owners.
By Nancy Malecha, Board Director