For those who missed the meeting here’s a synopsis:
In her keynote address MiMi Chamberlain, Executive Director of Churches Active in Northside, reminded us what drove us to open a grocery store in our neighborhood and why it is so important for those of us with few financial resources to have a store with affordable fresh food we can walk to.
Apple Street Board member Kristen Barker then reported on how far we’ve come since last year, — we know a lot more about what it will take to open a successful grocery store that serves everyone in the community and 633 people purchased shares in Apple Street Market since our previous Annual Meeting bringing us to a total of 1,125 community owners as of March 31st.
Then we talked about the challenges we’ve faced recently: increases in construction expense, and more importantly, low sales projections for the store.
Project costs for opening our store at 4145 Apple Street have increased from $1,515,000 to $3,203,000. Sales projections for the store were limited to the first year and did not take into account increased competition. In light of the increased expenses we commissioned a second study that provided three years worth of sales projections. The study came back $600,000 lower than the earlier study, first year sales at 2.9 million as opposed to 3.5 million.
Meeting the Challenges
We then discussed the steps we are taking overcome these challenges in two ways.
The first way is to improve the feasibility of the former Save-A- Lot at 4145 Apple Street. Among the tactics for doing so are changing the design of the sales floor to improve cash flow for the store and driving more customer traffic to Apple Street Market by increasing visibility of the store through street improvements on Knowlton and signage on Hamilton;
The second way is to select another site with higher sales potential. To this end, other sites that could serve Northside were investigated and market studies for two alternate sites were commissioned that confirmed the sites had significantly higher sales. For Apple Street Market to develop either site we will need to partner with other community organizations in the neighborhood.
The downside for these alternative sites is that it will take approximately three years to open a store. That said, opening Apple Street Market at 4145 Apple Street will take between one and a half to two years.
Our next steps are:
- To commission a pro forma for each option to determine the best path forward
- To secure additional grants and non-debt financing to close the funding gap, including partnering with community organizations in the neighborhood
- Find ways to serve the community’s need for a grocery store in the interim
- Increase the number of community owners to 2,000 and raise $253,000 in community owner shares, donations, and loans
Monthly Community Meeting
I shared in an earlier post that most efforts to open community owned grocery stores take 3 – 5 years. It is also true that once a food co-op gets past the first few years of operation, “failure” looks like serving their communities for a mere forty, fifty years. We are building something to serve generations to come. However, while it is important for us to get Apple Street “right” instead of “quick”, MiMi Chamberlain reminded us all that the profound need for a full service grocery store in our community is also an urgent need. With that in mind, I will be updating everyone on our progress at a community report-back meeting, 7:30 PM, the fourth Tuesday of every month, at Happen Inc. – 4201 Hamilton Avenue.
(the other three Tuesdays we hold a volunteer meeting at 7PM at Happen, please consider attending)
Christopher Andrew DeAngelis,
Apple Street Market General Manager