THE READER
August 2004

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Northside Community
Co-op Taking Off!

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Northside Community
Co-op Taking Off!

Lisa Wiese
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.