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Co-op Taking Off!
Co-op Taking Off!
NCC Board Vice President
After the only full service grocery store on Madison’s Northside
closed down, a group of residents got together to discuss the possibility
of starting a grocery store cooperative. The benefits of such an endeavor
were obvious: a grocery store that is owned and controlled by Northside
residents would exist to serve its members, and its continued viability
would not depend on the whim of big corporations. However, the big question
was whether Northside residents would support a cooperative. Two public
meetings were held at the Warner Park Community Center; the first to gauge
interest for this project (about 40 people attended) and the second to
get commitments from Northside residents. After the second meeting, over
50 people had filled out declarations of intent to support a new cooperative,
and that number has been growing ever since.
With advice from Willy Street Co-op, this project has now taken many steps
forward. The initial group has incorporated as the Northside Community
Co-op (NCC) and a temporary board of directors, including officers, have
been elected. The first NCC membership drive officially began June 28,
2004. Membership forms were sent to those that declared their intent to
become members. Within two weeks, 39 people had joined this effort by
investing in a member equity share.
Willy Street Co-op wholeheartedly supports the idea of a co-op grocery
store on the Northside. But rather than expand to the north, Willy Street
Co-op has followed the old proverb, “If you give a man a fish, you
feed him for one day; if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
Willy Street Co-op has provided NCC with invaluable expertise from the
start, guiding the fledgling group to initial resources and funding an
NCC board member to attend the annual Consumer Cooperative Management
Association (CCMA) Conference in Minneapolis in June. To further assist
the development of a grocery co-op on Madison’s Northside, NCC has
partnered with Willy Street Co-op, Cooperative Development Services (CDS),
the UW Center for Cooperatives, the City of Madison, and the Northside
Planning Council to apply for a USDA grant of $95,000.
Northsiders are a determined group: if they set out to get a grocery store,
they will. If you are interested in helping with this effort or have questions,
please contact Michael Shinners (241-1848) or Lisa Wiese (242-8572) or
visit the NCC website at www.ncgrocery.org.