January 2006

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Board Report: An Update on Expansion

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Board Report

An Update on Expansion

by Steve Silverberg, WSGC Board Member

Dear Fellow Owners

It’s true, sometimes “when one door closes another opens.” So goes our potential expansion plans after having the Monroe Street site not bear fruit. Although many people were disappointed, we know it’s time to move on. The Board voted in the summer to continue looking for possible additional store sites that would relieve some of the pressure on our popular mothership and better serve the membership while remaining true to our core values. In response to some of the lessons learned at Monroe Street, we are proceeding in an orderly manner to identify a possible future site(s). A diverse subcommittee made up of Board members, Opportunities committee members and outside consultants is focused on this task.

A request for information

We have taken a multi-phase approach to our search. This fall we sent out a widely distributed “Request for Information” (RFI) to the entire greater Madison development and commercial property broker/owner community. Contained in the RFI was an outline of what we are looking for in terms of square feet, parking, etc. for a full service grocery store. We were pleased to receive almost 25 responses. Responses included primarily information about location and nature of the development/ownership team, as well as timeline information. The next step in our process was to reduce this list of sites using criteria we developed to help guide us, and market study information provided to us about each site by Dakota International, a leading grocery market study firm that has previously preformed work for the Co-op. One of the things we have learned is that some sites are available that meet our criteria but are not big enough for a “full service” store of about 10,000 square feet. Since these sites do meet our criteria, we are continuing to investigate the financial feasibility and plausibility of a small-model store.

We have made significant headway and have reduced the initial RFI list quite a bit. The sites and owners who “made the cut” from a large list to our “medium list” are now being sent detailed questionnaires about their property so we can better assess whether they can meet our needs. This questionnaire covers not only specific physical aspects of their site, but also delves into the details of their proposed timelines, costs, ownership/lease structures, etc. We plan to be as thorough as possible with anyone who has made this cut. We are confident that by reviewing multiple sites in detail, we will learn more and put ourselves in a better position to decide which, if any, of these sites deserves final consideration by the membership as a future second store.

More information

Have you noticed we have not included the names of any of the sites sent to us as part of the RFI or sites that made our “medium list”? Based on what has been learned in the past, we have collectively decided that the benefits of waiting to go public with these sites outweigh the costs. If and when we find a site that we feel is worthy of actual expansion consideration and vote by the membership, we will thoroughly share all details with you. We should know something more in Spring 2006.