Dear Co-op Owners and Shoppers,
We are so excited to have finally opened our doors after 10 years of community organizing, investment, and hard work. Now that we’re open, we are working to fine tune our systems. That means our department leads and I are doing walkthroughs of our store and operational systems to ensure they support operational sustainability and also fall in line with our mission and end statements. We also welcome your input here: customer comment form.
As you know, one of our most important values is providing our whole community access to fresh, healthful foods. Throughout January and February we will be making it a priority to review our pricing structures and roll out new programs to advance our goal that "Our neighbors at all income levels have access to high-quality, healthful food."
On the topic of pricing, we are happy with the progress we have made in regards to pricing for our produce, bread, and many local items. We are aware that we have some work to do in regards to both the wholesale price we pay as well as the retail price of some of our nationally distributed items, there is a connection between the two.
As a small start-up there are many complex variables and hurdles that we must navigate to meet this important goal. Our first year sales projections fall under $2M, and that means we are small potatoes compared to chain stores. Economy of scale is real and larger chains can buy things by the truckload that we purchase by the case. The food system has many challenges and this is one of them. Money = power. It's important to note that as a small retailer large distributors do not give us the same lower prices as chains like Acme, Walmart, and Whole Foods get through substantial volume discounts. Chain store volume discounts vastly exceed ours and that means at times they are selling items close to what we pay cost. Additionally as a new store bringing in thousands of products, means there thousands of prices that need to be evaluated. Lastly opening the store in the midst of a pandemic meant that we a number of other adjustments we had to make to open our store safely that included additional equipment and planning, and we had to reduce the number of people who could be involved in the setting of the store to ensure we were working with the health of our workers and the public in mind. Overall we came into this opening with less capacity than we had originally planned, but it was important for us to open when we did because our community needs fresh, healthy food, our staff need jobs, and our sustainability relied on opening our doors as quickly as possible given all the construction, equipment, and supply delays caused by the pandemic.
Here is our plan:
- Everyday Basics Program - Roll out our Everyday Basics program which will bring over 75 staple food items and other household essentials down to an everyday low price. We’ll be rolling this out by January 18th.
- Field Day Program - We are signing up for volume discount pricing on Field Day brand products. This will allow us to work those items into our Everyday Basics Program.
- Product Mix Assessment- We will be working to evaluate our products section by section to make sure we have a lower priced item in all key categories.
- Increasing our Sales - This is where you come in! When you support the store by shopping at the co-op we can increase our sales to get more deliveries from our distributor. As we are able to increase the number of deliveries they can make and the dollars we purchase from them we will have better, more consistent supply and greater volume discounts.
- Working with Vendors - We will be negotiating with vendors to get lower wholesale prices, more volume discounts, seeking out new suppliers, and lowering prices whenever possible.
- Sales Programs - our produce department sales program is in effect, check back each week for special deals, our grocery department will be rolling out it’s first sales items on January 14th.
- More Ways to Save! - We will also be rolling out our Owner Appreciation Days, Sales Program, and Owner Only Specials as outlined on this page. Stay tuned for more details.
We appreciate your support, feedback, and patience. And remember this is your store and your patronage is fundamentally tied to our long term financial health and vitality.
The health and safety of our Co-op community is our highest priority. As the spread of COVID-19 increases, South Philly Food Co-op is taking action to help protect our patrons and our employees.
Our General Manager and department leadership team will continue to closely monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials in our area. The team will rely on their recommendations and expertise to inform our decisions. Based on that advice, we are:
Providing safe social distances:
- Limiting the number of shoppers allowed in the store at one time, currently 12 total customers, based on new CDC recommendations.
- Creating a queue for waiting in line and offering umbrellas to customers outside of the store when we are at capacity inside.
- Installing shopping guides and 6 foot social distance markers to ensure good flow and limited customer interactions within the 6 foot social distance recommendations. Following these guidelines is especially critical when the store is crowded,
- Installing plexiglass barriers to minimize interactions between cashiers and shoppers.
- Commissioned the build of a third mobile register to make it easier for customers to get in and out of the store and keep the lines inside the store to a minimum
- Cancelled in person meetings until further notice, all non-shopping related events with limited exception, will be held virtually until further notice.
- At risk shopping our Wednesdays from 9-10 am.
Offering alternatives to instore shopping:
- Are offering an online order service with home delivery (and curbside pick-up, coming soon). Those unable to use the online store may call at certain times to place an order.
- Are launching a shopper buddy program so that those who are high-risk can get a neighbor to pick up their groceries.
Ensuring cleanliness and proper hygiene:
- Requiring that all staff, delivery persons, and patrons over the age of 3 wear a mask in the retail areas of the store.
- Making hand sanitizer available in the entryway of the store, near the customer bathroom, and in the staff work and break areas.
- Encouraging staff and customers folks to frequently and diligently perform hand-washing as a means to prevent the spread of germs.
- Routhine, frequent, and rigorous cleaning of the store and sanitization of all high touch areas will be emphasized and enforced.
Taking care of our staff:
- All staff members have paid time off that they can use in the event that they become sick or need to take leave of absence due to COVID-19.
- We are working to establish a partnership with Vybe for staff rapid testing.
- Staff will have scheduled access to break areas to ensure safe eating be provided to staff.
- Providing a set of reusable cloth masks for staff to use while on shift as well as ample access to disposable masks when a temporary replacement is needed.
- Providing a limited hazard-pay premium from opening day through the end of this calendar year. (Contribute to our Hazard Pay Fund so that we can continue this essential benefit into 2021.)
- We hope to provide hot meals to staff on shift. (Donate local restaurant gift cards to show appreciation for our staff in this busy and difficult time. Email [email protected] to help.)
As circumstances continue to develop, we will make our decisions with the health and well-being of our member-owners, customers, employees, and community as top priority.
Support Our Effort to Raise Wages for Co-op Staff
A special request from your Co-op’s General Manager
We’ve gotten a few questions about the compensation and benefits package we plan to provide to our staff. Transparency is very important to us, so we wanted to share our answers. We are so grateful that our community shares our desire to pay our amazing team fairly!
Let’s review the package we currently provide, and the package we plan to provide with your support.
Currently, Clerks earn at least $11/hour and Department Leads earn at least $13/hour. We will offer hazard pay for retail frontline shifts to the extent we can. We will provide health insurance, paid leave, and a store discount. Our workers will have access to professional development too. We set a new employee’s pay based on their experience. We were able to attract very experienced candidates so currently none are set at the base rate for any position.
We know this isn’t enough and we want more for our staff. We are working hard to bring our wages up and expand our benefits, but we need your support. Keep reading to find out what you can do to help.
Hazard Pay: Our goal is to raise $12,400 to cover 6,200 hours of hazard pay starting January 1st, 2021 and running through April 30th, 2021. This would double our current hazard pay ($1/hour) and extend that beyond the first month of operation. We are currently searching and applying for grant opportunities, however self-funding is our strongest option for increasing this essential benefit. You can support us by contributing to our Hazard Pay fund today: click here. You will also have the opportunity to contribute to this fund at the register.
Wages: Our goal is to increase base pay by $2/hr for our entire team, while also increasing our maximum hourly rates. This would be the first incremental step in raising wages even higher in the future. Our Department Managers, staff, and I are working together to realize these goals. We all need to work together to make this possible and that includes our Member-Owners.
Here’s how you can support Co-op staff members:
- Pledge to shop at the Co-op and spend your grocery dollars with us in 2021.
- Encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to shop with us also (and to become Member-Owners if they aren't already).
- Contribute to our Hazard Pay fund.
- Donate local restaurant gift cards to show appreciation for our staff in this busy and difficult time.
If we can beat our revenue projections by 15% next year, we will be able to sustain the increased wages outlined above. Higher than expected sales will also increase our Co-ops efficiency. An efficient store can afford the best benefits for its team and we can’t do it without you.
Until we reach our sales goals for a sustained period of time, we will fund Hazard Pay through community donations. We will pay quarterly staff bonuses when we exceed our sales and labor margin goals. This will help bridge the gap, until we are certain our sales are hitting our goals in a sustained way.
Before I go, a word about accountability. The Board requires me to submit reports on staff treatment and pay each year. Those reports also include plans to offer better benefits and pay going forward. I look forward to reporting on the accomplishment of these goals, with your help and support.
Thank you for your continued consideration. We are humbled and inspired by the outpouring of support that our community. Your help allows us to get the store open during this pandemic. We appreciate your commitment to shopping our store and support for our Hazard Pay fund.
In Cooperation and Solidarity,
All motions were approved.
Here is the tally:Question #1
Motion to adopt the Board recommended revised bylaws
|Vote In Favor - adopt revised bylaws||287|
|Abstain (default if nothing selected)||12|
Motion to approve Fall 2019 minutes
|Vote In Favor - approve minutes||266|
|Abstain (default if nothing selected)||36|
Motion to approve Spring 2020 minutes
|Vote In Favor - approve minutes||263|
|Abstain (default if nothing selected)||35|
Motion to adopt the Board recommended increase to our equity share price
|Vote In Favor - increase equity share price||250|
|Abstain (default if nothing selected)||11|
Our updated bylaws can be found here.
Here is an FAQ document on why the owner share price was changed from $200 to $300.
Later today, Friday, October 2nd, we will be sending out information about how existing owners can add their $100 in additional equity to bring their share up to $300 and how new members can join for $300. We will offer an abundance of options including extended installment plans (and a grace period for existing member-owners those that need time to begin making installments toward that additional $100). Those who are member-owners through our Community Equity Fund will see no change. Again, stay tuned for more information. Thank you everyone for your support!
Chad Hooper, Board President
Lori Burge, General Manager
Dear South Philly Food Co-op Community,
Thank you all for welcoming me aboard as the General Manager of South Philly Food Co-op! Over the coming months, my goal is to keep you informed of our progress toward opening and invite your thoughts, feedback, and participation along the way. As a community-owned cooperative, community engagement is central to our business.
This is an exciting time because we are transforming our space from a shell into a real grocery store as we enter the tenant improvement phase of construction! This moment is the culmination of an incredible investment of thought, time, and effort on the part of our boards—past and present—our volunteers and our South Philly community.
- I have reviewed and provided feedback on project plans with our project management team (including hvac, electrical, plumbing, lighting, equipment, etc.)
- I have been ServSafe certified for food safety so that we can apply for our health license.
- I am working with our committees: Finance, Facilities, Marketing, Outreach, Food Justice & Equity.
- Point of Sale (register system) proposals are in!
- The board adopted over a dozen policies that will guide me in the role of the general manager, our store operations, and establish a mechanism for appropriate oversight.
- Our website is now hosted on a .COOP domain which will help us differentiate ourselves in the market.
What’s Happening / Coming Up Next:Read more
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 24, 2018
Follow us on social: @spfoodcoop
“$60K in 60 Days” Matching Member Loan Campaign Calls on 950+ Member-Owners to Deepen Their Investment in the Co-op
SOUTH PHILADELPHIA, PA — Since September 1, the South Philly Food Co-op has raised $33,800, a momentous start to its fall “$60K in 60 Days” member loan match campaign. Raising $60,000 by October 31 will unlock an additional $30,000 pledge from the Board of Directors, bringing the Co-op even closer to groundbreaking.
The South Philly Food Co-op will be South Philadelphia’s only community-owned grocery store — a place where neighbors can come together for fresh, whole, real food as well as community and food-centric education. It will take $1.14 million to capitalize the Co-op and transform the empty space at 2031 S. Juniper St. into a fully stocked grocery store.
“I'm proud to be part of this community of nearly 1,000 member-owners,” says Leigh Goldenberg, President of the Co-op’s Board of Directors. “By deepening our investment together, we can open our doors in 2019 and provide a neighborhood-centered, neighborhood-powered grocery option unique to South Philadelphia.”
Adds Jamila Medley, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance: “We are thrilled for South Philly Food Co-op's early success in this member loan match campaign. Member loans are an important way to build and sustain a cooperative economy.”
About Member Loans
The Member-Owner Note Program is the core of the Co-op’s capital campaign. It is a way for member-owners to invest in the Co-op, just as they would for any other start-up business. Programs like this have served as a powerful tool for food co-ops across the country.
"As a proud member-owner and investor myself, I am inspired every day by people in our neighborhood choosing to redirect their dollars locally and invest in this critical piece of community-owned infrastructure,” says Emily Wyner, Capital Campaign Organizer. “In a sociopolitical moment when things can feel out of our control, this is something we can truly own together.”
To learn more, visit southphillyfoodcoop.org.
Big news first: On Wednesday, August 22, the South Philly Food Co-op will host a special meeting of the members, to give our 920 member-owners the opportunity to vote on three proposed bylaw amendments. We'll also share some exciting news about our leadership team and celebrate some big milestones reached in our Capital Campaign!
Read on to learn more, and we hope to see you on the 22nd!
The South Philly Food Co-op Board of Directors
August 2: Happy Hour at Pistola's Del Sur
Join us TONIGHT for the latest and greatest in our series of Co-op happy hours!
A portion of proceeds from select items on Pistola's Del Sur's happy hour member will be donated to the Co-op, so order lots of:
- Yards Brewing Co. Saison
- The South Philly Yo-Op (tequila, hibiscus, orange, lime, Champagne)
- Margherita Coca (flatbread)
- Traditional guacamole
Plus, our generous hosts (and future neighbors!) have donated a gift card/beer basket for us to raffle off to attendees.
Come for the guac, stay for the cooperation (and beer).
August 22: A Special Meeting of the Members
Save the date: Please join us Wednesday, August 22 for a special meeting of the members!
Come meet our newly minted members of the Board of Directors; learn some exciting news about leadership changes on the Board; and -- most importantly -- vote on three key bylaw amendments.
Our Board proposes that we:
- eliminate the requirement that member-owners volunteer 8 hours per year;
- eliminate the requirement that member-owners attend a member orientation event; and
- change our Board candidacy qualifications such that adult candidates must only be a member-owner in good standing, for any length of time.
Voting "yes" on these measures would simply make volunteerism and attendance at an orientation optional; and provide more flexibility in Board development. Our bylaws are available for review here: southphillyfoodcoop.org/bylaws.
You can read more about the proposed bylaw amendments here. Primary member-owners will be receiving an email with an opportunity to vote digitally, or may choose to attend our event on the 22nd to vote in person.
Special Meeting of the Members
Wednesday, August 22, 6-8 p.m.
Facebook event coming soon!
CO-OP LEADERSHIP NEWS
Meet Emily Wyner, Capital Campaign Organizer
We're excited to announce that board member Emily Wyner is stepping into the role of Capital Campaign Organizer! Emily holds a master's degree in organization development and leadership, and focuses her consulting work on capacity building and expansion for mission-driven organizations. You'll be hearing much more from her in the coming months. Want to become a member-owner or deepen your investment through our member loan program? Drop Emily a line! She's treating anyone who reaches out to coffee — and a private store tour, in case you haven't seen the space yet.
Cate Murray will still be raising funds for the Co-op in the near term with particular emphasis on larger and institutional investors. She's also working on a number of other food-related projects in the area. Follow her on Instagram at @freeandplenty or find her on Wednesday nights at Hale and True, Philly's Best Cidery.
Comings, Goings and Leadership Changes on the Board
Our 2018 Board of Directors has officially been sworn in! At our most recent general membership meeting, we re-elected Jessica Calter, Angel D'Ippolito, Anna Kisiel and Emily Wyner; and in a special election last month, the Board also appointed Tanya Seaman! Our 2018-19 officers are:
Leigh Goldenberg, President
Jessica Calter, Vice President
Angel D'Ippolito, Treasurer
Nathaniel Cauldwell, Secretary
Exciting updates left and right around here! Please take a few minutes to read about:
- Our Capital Campaign fundraising progress and a call for your ideas
- Our Phase 1 construction (spoiler alert: It's here!)
- Our big June event, Kitchen Crawl: A Traveling Cocktail Party
- Our newest Shop South Philly partner business (hint: It's where you can buy everything for the kitchen but the sink ... )
And so much more. Thanks as always for your support and your participation!
The South Philly Food Co-op Board of Directors
P.S. If you'd like to cook or donate food or drink to the Kitchen Crawl, please fill out this form!
P.P.S. We'd like to wish our Board President, Jessica Calter, a very happy birthday today! Thanks for everything you do for the Co-op.
Recap: Spring 2018 General Membership Meeting
Huge thanks to everyone who came out to The Broad on Mifflin for our Spring 2018 General Membership Meeting! We ate (thanks, Blackbird Pizzeria!), we texted, we broke out into groups, and we all left feeling more inspired than ever before. Key takeaways:
Our Capital Campaign is going full steam ahead! Thanks to all of you, we are 909 members strong and have raised $191,800 in member loans. Wow! (Check out this handy one-sheet that explains our progress in more detail.) Now's the time to double down on our efforts: To fill our $250,000 gap, we need at least 300 more members and $150,000-$175,000 more in member-owner loans. (To that end, click here if you'd like to become a member-owner of the Co-op today, or email [email protected] if you're ready to make a member loan to deepen your investment in our future.)
Four Board members were (re-)elected to our Board of Directors for another two-year term! Big congratulations and gratitude go out to Jessica Calter, Angel D'Ippolito, Anna Kisiel and Emily Wyner. We couldn't do this without you!
- Our committees are busy ... really busy. Our Facilities team has shepherded phase 1 of construction (scroll down for details); our Outreach team has been setting up Co-op tables at events from river to river; our Food Justice & Equity Committee is gaining ground in establishing inclusive and equitable practices, processes and policies to help us enact our mission of using food as a force for good.
Building News: Phase 1 of Construction Is Complete!
We shared this exciting news at our General Membership Meeting, and we’re so pleased to share it with all of you: With building permits in hand, we have started construction! We hired Philly-based small-business owner Buckminster Green as our general contractor to do the first of two phases of construction. The first phase was limited to framing out the store; this framing was necessary to allow our landlord to complete their agreed-upon improvements, including electrical and HVAC installation and distribution. Phase two won’t start until all financing and fundraising is in place, but we’ll be ready to go when that all comes together!
Want to check out the space for yourself? Come to our June 30 Kitchen Crawl and get a tour! Speaking of which ...
[We're throwing!] June 30: Kitchen Crawl: A Traveling Cocktail Party
Join us for a very special event at the end of the month! The Kitchen Crawl is a South Philly interpretation of a traveling dinner party, offering samples and sips of Philly’s local food scene at homes of South Philly Food Co-op member-owners. Small groups will travel from home to home, including a stop at our future store location at 2031 S. Juniper. Tickets will be offered for $30 to Co-op members and $40 to non-members. Only 100 tickets will be sold, to ensure our event is an opportunity for neighbors to have authentic interactions with chefs, entrepreneurs, and fellow food enthusiasts that make up Philadelphia’s vibrant culinary community. Saturday, June 30, 3-6 p.m., $30 (Co-op members)-$40 (general admission), registration at 2031 S. Juniper St., southphillyfoodcoop.org/kitchencrawl.
[We're benefiting!] August 26: The Philly 10K
Quick reminder that the 2018 Philly 10K has chosen the Co-op as its beneficiary! We're honored to be partnering with this amazing organization that rallies thousands of runners around a singular passion: the City of Brotherly Love. Save the date and cheer on all the runners! Sunday, August 26, 7:30 a.m., add your name to the registration waiting list at thephilly10k.com.
Help Us Wrap Up Our Capital Campaign!
- What's your strategy for helping us raise $250,000 in remaining capital?
- How much would you charge?
SHOP SOUTH PHILLY SPOTLIGHT
Welcome Fante's to the Fam!
Our long-running local business partnership program Shop South Philly offers exclusive discounts and specials to South Philly Food Co-op member-owners when they shop at dozens of participating boutiques, restaurants and other shops. Just show your member card or member ID number at the following local businesses to receive your discount.
We'd like to give a warm welcome to everyone's favorite Italian Market kitchen outfitter, Fante's, our newest Shop South Philly partner business! Present your card at purchase to receive 10% off tools and 5% off electrics.
Don't forget to patronize Shop South Philly partner businesses often, and thank them for their participation!
Happy 2018! We hope your year is off to a happy, healthy start.
First and most importantly, we're hosting a happy hour on Thursday, January 25, and you're invited! Please join us from 6-9 p.m. at the Black Cat Tavern to celebrate the new year and hear more about what the Co-op has in store in the coming months. All attendees will get $1 off all drafts and $1 off all well drinks. We'll also be raffling off some great prizes, like 76ers tickets and a beer basket donated by The Black Cat! Hope to see you there!
If you've been following us over the past couple of months, you know that in November, we launched You and Yours, a big year-end campaign with really big goals: to gain 100 new member-owners and $100,000 in member loans by December 31.
We knocked on lots of doors, made lots of phone calls, met with lots of folks and had a ton of great conversations about what it means to own a grocery store along with hundreds of your neighbors. We hosted events at coffee shops and bars around the city, and asked you to deepen your involvement -- and your investment -- in the Co-op. So many of you stepped up as member-owners and pledged member loans, and we're so grateful for your support.
We can file all those conversations and connections and commitments in our “win” folder, but we also think it’s important to be honest with our supporters and let you know that, despite our very best efforts, we have yet to reach our 2017 year-end financial goals.
We raised nearly $8,000 in member loans from folks just like you in South Philly who believe in the power of taking ownership of our local economy. Plus, we added 38 member-owner households to our roster over the course of just six weeks. That means we're 853 strong, and growing every day.
And we can't do it without you. Do you know a neighbor, friend or relative who's been meaning to become a member-owner? Would you reconsider making a loan to the Co-op? Please think about helping out. Can you offer any suggestions on furthering our outreach and community engagement efforts? We’d love to hear from you.
We’re all dreaming about shopping at the South Philly Food Co-op. If we continue to work together, we can make it happen.
The South Philly Food Co-op
P.S. Looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone? On February 7, hand-paint something personal for the ones you love at Co-op Night at The Expressive Hand, where you’ll get 10% of your purchase, and 10% of all sales will be donated to the Co-op. Or, grab your sweetheart some sweet Co-op swag! We’ve got a handful of our limited-edition T-shirts and onesies on sale at Nice Things Handmade; and some storefront-sketch tea towels over at the Occasionette.