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From our e-mail bag: When is the Co-op going to open?

We encourage anyone - members, non-members, "not yet" members - to email us any time they have a question, comment or suggestion. Engaged and curious members are what will make this Co-op successful and sustainable. Occasionally, we get a question that we think should be shared with everyone along with the answer to the question. This is one of those:
We've been members of the Co-op now for awhile, but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I thought once we reached 400 members that something would happen. Now we're up to 600 members for the goal. Several of us are getting tired of waiting around for a virtual co-op and are unclear what the holdup is. I'm afraid I don't have the time to regularly attend meetings, but I do try to read some of the emails and I'm just not clear on the delay reasons. Thanks for any updates.
First, thanks for taking the time to reach out with your questions. We try as hard as we can to keep our members as informed as possible about the overall process for starting the Co-op and the significance of each milestone goal but there are always ways we can improve on delivering that message. We realize that the length of time that it takes to get a co-op operating can be daunting and that it requires a great deal of patience on the part of our members as we go through this process. The member milestones are taken from best practices that successful co-ops all around the U.S. have followed when starting up. As you can see from the timeline for opening that we’ve had in place since we began recruiting members in June of 2011, each milestone corresponds to a specific set of tasks that also need to be done before moving on to the next stage. We try to communicate each time we reach a milestone - first 250, then 400, next is 600 and so on - what the achievement of that milestone allows us to do (i.e. we would not have wanted to start a location search before 400, etc.). From the beginning we've estimated that the Co-op would likely open sometime in early to mid (eta: to late) 2014 and we are so far still on pace for that and not currently experiencing any delays in our original timeline. We’ve been working to educate people that this is necessarily a long process in order to ensure that upon opening the store will be around for a long, long time. The volunteers and member-owners who are making the Co-op happen are working hard every day to move to that next stage where we will have a location picked and begin fitting it out for opening. Our real estate committee has gone on a number of site visits and is narrowing down locations to a few that we will do professional site analyses on to confirm their suitability and viability. We have made the choice not to publicly talk about which locations they are visiting so as to avoid starting the rumor mill that "X" location is where the Co-op will be located. We realize this limits us in what we can communicate to the membership as a whole but the downside of the rumor mill makes it necessary. We simply don't want to be in a position where anyone joins because they think the Co-op will be located in a specific place only to find out later that it was never going to be there. Speaking of membership, our membership committee has continued to push hard since the end of our recently completed, very successful campaign. We continue to have members signing up every week. Our hope is that by the time our Garden Tour fundraiser in September comes around we’ll also be celebrating that 600-member milestone AND the selection of a site that will move us on to pre-construction. Again, thanks for taking the time to get in touch with us and, of course, thank you for being a member. Being a member is the single most important thing you can do to help get the store open. We’re making great progress and will get there soon! Feel free to reach out to us directly with any further questions. P.S. Please share this information with the other people you reference in your email and extend my invitation to them to communicate with us directly if they have any questions.