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Thursday, March 9, 2017

1:00 PM - 5:00 PM The Path to Effective Governance Salon E

The Path to Effective Cooperative Governance - and a more successful and fun startup process!


No matter where you are in your startup journey, practicing good governance and evolving it as your co-op’s needs change will help your group work more effectively together, have more fun, and help you make better decisions. Being good at governance will also position you to be a better employer and attract better GM candidates. This half-day workshop provides practical and tested ideas, templates and processes that you can use to set your co-op on the path to effective governance. 


We’ll cover the Four Pillars of Cooperative Governance, your first set of Working Agreements, the transition to using policies and steps you can take to help new board members get up to speed and support established board members too!


This workshop is open to all and will include opportunities to try out new ideas and practice cooperative governance with other participants. Come learn from and be part of the wisdom in the room!


Stages 1-3



Your co-op’s journey from kitchen-table idea to open store is at its core a story. How successful, or unsuccessful, we are in telling that story at every stage of its development has a huge impact on if our co-op continues to grow and gets to opening day. The work of telling this story is marketing and marketing is:  brand, events, social media, messaging, swag, media coverage, and more. Without great marketing, there is no great startup! This half day workshop will be an immersion in all things startup marketing with many examples of what works, and what doesn’t, from real co-op startup peers.

Stages 1-3


1:00 PM - 5:00 PM Lessons from the Locations Meet in the lobby of the InterContinental

In 1970, a lot was happening in our country and in Milwaukee. “Organic” was just a concept, a practice, a way of life for the back to the land folks. Concerned people in the Milwaukee area were looking for a way to purchase foods they considered wholesome and whole. These folks pooled their interest and their money into a cooperative business structure and in April of 1970, started the East Kane Street Food Co-op. Shares in the co-op originally sold for $2.50 a share and the store was “staffed” completely by volunteers.

A year later, after much reorganization, the co-op moved to Clark Street and was renamed Outpost Natural Foods. One of the founders said the name was chosen because, “We felt our effort in carrying pure foods at low cost is a pioneering one in this vast wasteland of depleted and processed foods.” Our new co-op survived and thrived, changing locations numerous times to accommodate it all. Two more locations were added to the lineup to provide service to the many owners joining from the west and from the south, and the administrative functions moved to a centralized location. Through it all, owners continued to put their faith, trust, equity and patronage into Outpost.

Outpost currently employs more than 400 diverse workers, is a UFCW — Local 1473 union shop, and just reached a milestone - 22,000 owners. They also publish an award-winning quarterly food and dining magazine, Graze, that celebrates the food of Wisconsin. Outpost’s business innovation and concern for the community has earned them numerous awards and their sustainability efforts have earned them a place on the EPA’s National Top 30 Retailer list. It’s also their desire to educate our community about healthy food choices and the power of cooperation. 

The "Lessons from the Locations" tour will travel to the two store locations, giving attendees the chance to witness firsthand the solutions Outpost has found to various merchandising, branding and operational challenges. Because the stores vary somewhat in size and layout, there have been lessons learned at each one. Hear from staff how they respond to the challenges of retail grocery, and gain insight into day-to-day issues behind the scenes with our host co-op. 


A Thursday afternoon pre-session will give an opportunity for co-operators from URBAN low-income/low-resourced communities to get to know each other, and (using Open Space Technology) convene a variety of sessions to discuss topics of specific interest to collaborate and problem-solve. The process is grounded in the belief that there is much wisdom and creativity in each of us that can be tapped when we work together to resolve issues we are passionate about. We will be focusing specifically on problems that affect URBAN low income/low-resource cooperative organizing efforts. Come prepared with an issue that’s perplexing you, or prepare to be inspired by issues brought by other — and keep an open mind.

6:00 PM - 8:30 PM Welcome Reception Lakefront Brewery, 1872 N. Commerce St.

Our host, Outpost Natural Foods, is the sponsor of the welcome reception at Lakefront Brewery.  Light snacks, drink tokens and a tour of the brewery will be provided.  Thanks Outpost!!!

Friday, March 10, 2017

7:15 AM - 8:15 AM Continental Breakfast Grand Salon
8:30 AM - 9:15 AM Opening Session Grand Salon
9:30 AM - 10:45 AM Laying the Foundation Part 1 Salon A


This workshop will illustrate how to create a roadmap for opening your cooperative using the four cornerstones and three stages model.  This is Part I of a two part session.

Stage 1

9:30 AM - 10:45 AM Thriving in a White Food Co-op World Salon E

Are you a person of color? Working with white people on co-operative projects can be a challenge, as whites typically don’t have a shared understanding of how racism affects our lives. Times of cultural upheaval can heighten racial stress. This interactive workshop will give you an opportunity to connect with other people of color dealing with racial stress, and help you leave with some tools to help navigate the road ahead.

9:30 AM - 10:45 AM Meet Your Co-op Lenders Panel Salon D

Cooperative lenders are key partners to startup food co-ops.  Why? Where most other lenders have never seen a project like a food co-op before and often put off by them, co-op lenders understand what co-ops are, they understand the value of what you are building, and they can be powerful allies in putting together your financing package. Meet in person lenders from the National Cooperative Bank, Shared Captial Cooperative, the Cooperative Fund of New England, and the LEAF Fund on this panel and get introduced to what they can offer!

Stage 2


9:30 AM - 10:45 AM Introduction to Food Co-op Finance Salon C

An introduction to the main financial reports that operators use: Balance Sheet, Income Statement, and Cash Flow Statement focusing on what we can learn from these reports.



9:30 AM - 10:45 AM Membership Growth 101 Salon B

Membership Growth 101


No matter how many members you have, you can always benefit from more. More members means more shoppers, more people to help finance the co-op and a larger pool of talent for your board. In this session we will cover features of successful membership campaigns, share success stories and do some practice story-telling for membership growth.


Stage 1



9:30 AM - 10:45 AM Case Study - Friendly City Lobby-Salon

Friendly City Food Co-op - Five Years In

 What we did right (and what we could have done better)


Friendly City Food Co-op in Harrisonburg, Virginia opened in June of 2011, in a town that didn’t fit many of the target demographics for a natural/organic food co-op. We’ve been more successful than many would have predicted because we did many things right – right from the start. Come learn what we did, and how we could have done even better with a few slight adjustments. Steve Cooke – Friendly City’s General Manager since 10 months before the co-op opened presents photos, plans, and visions from before opening, along the way, and current views.


10:45 AM - 11:00 AM Break Grand Salon
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM Laying the Foundation part II Salon A


This workshop is Part II of a two part session in which Bill will explain how to utilize the Four Cornerstones in Three Stages development model for start-up food co-ops.  Sessions will include small-group learning opportunities and exercises. 

Stage 1

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM How to Work with Lenders Salon D

The journey to fully funding your food co-op will include a great deal of work on building and growing relationships with outside lenders. This workshop is especially for those of on your startup team who work on finance issues and foresee being involved in the work of funding your startup. We’ll go over industry lingo you should know for lender conversations; when to start conversations with possible outside lenders and with how many; all the way to what to expect from the loan closing process.


Stage 2


11:00 AM - 12:15 PM Mini and Micro Owner Campaigns Salon B

Jeremy Nash, Ownership Coordinator for Prairie Food Co-op, will be presenting about the do’s and don’t’s of mini and micro owner campaigns designed to jump start and incentivize quick Ownership growth for your co-op. Topics such as optimal times to run promotions, what rewards to offer, length of campaign, owner goal, how to message most effectively, how to pick a winner, how to promote your campaign on social media, ad targeting, and many more considerations will be covered at length.


Stage 2


11:00 AM - 12:15 PM Culture of the Co-op Salon E

Seward Community Co-op located in Minneapolis, MN has roughly 16,000 owners with annuals sales of $42 million.  In 2015, it opened its second location known as the Friendship Store.  Raynardo Williams, Friendship Store, Manager will discuss how him and his team created a store culture where “Everyone is Welcomed.” He will discuss the need of hiring a diverse staff and hiring within the community. 



11:00 AM - 12:15 PM Using Key Indicators Salon C


This workshop will review those important numbers management uses in their operational decision making and how these numbers are impacted on the floor.

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM Case Study - Renaissance (pre-open) Lobby-Salon

The Renaissance Community Co-op (RCC) is a full service grocery store in a primarily African-American, low-resource community. Until the store opened in October 2016, this area of Northeast Greensboro was classified as a food desert for more than 18 years.

The five year effort to open the co-op was the culmination of a decade and a half of hard work to bring a grocery store back to the neighborhood. The RCC carries a primarily conventional product mix and features a hot bar, deli, and on-site butcher.

Hear all about the work that went into developing and opening the RCC from Sohnie Black and Dave Reed. They are staff members at the Fund for Democratic Communities, a Greensboro-based foundation that provided technical assistance to the community throughout the five year development period and continuing today.

12:15 PM - 1:15 PM Lunch Grand Salon

Development costs continue to rise to get a cooperative grocery store up and running.  It is increasingly important to think “out of the box” to find additional sources of capital, or to re-invent the tried and true ways to fill these ever-increasing development budgets. In this workshop we will feature the stories of 10 co-ops that successfully secured creative or unusual financing sources in order to finance their start-up or expansion. The goal is to inspire start-ups to think of ways you might be able to bring new funding sources to the table in your own communities.


Stage 2

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM Controlling Labor Costs Salon C

Food co-ops of all sizes are experiencing a new level of competition, coming from all directions – other natural foods retailers, conventional grocery stores, superstores and warehouse clubs, and Amazon and other online shopping options. With razor thin profit margins in grocery retail, it is critical to manage labor -- by far the co-op’s largest controllable expense -- effectively and efficiency. We’ll talk about the challenges in managing labor for a start-up, whose job it is to control labor, how to budget for labor and make adjustments based on actual performance, if/where owner labor comes into play, and how to translate a labor budget into people, skills and scheduling. As Garth Ennis writes in The Boys, Volume 1: The Name of the Game, “Remember the seven Ps. Seven what? Proper preparation and planning . . .

As Benjamin Franklin so succinctly noted “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”



1:30 PM - 2:45 PM Volunteers: The Agony and the Ecstasy Salon D

In this session you’ll hear real world volunteer stories from Jeremy Nash, Ownership Coordinator for Prairie Food Co-op and Katie Novak, Outreach Manager for Green Top Grocery. Topics will include the 4 R’s of Volunteer Management: Recruiting, Recognizing, Retaining and holding volunteers Responsible. You’ll get an understanding of  what has worked for these two Illinois based co-ops and what hasn’t in terms of utilizing volunteers and walk away with tips and techniques to help you recruit and energize your volunteers.


Stages 1-2

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM NuWaters - A Case Study Salon E

NuWaters Co-op is a small co-op of about 200 members that was started to address food access issues in the historic 3rd Ward community in Houston Texas. It started with meager resources and has been in operation for about 3 years. With a small but eager crew of volunteers, the co-op is open 7 days a week, manages a 3 acre urban farm that is being prepared to grow heirloom, organic, non-gmo produce to be sold at the farm (Fresh Greens), and a 2 acre site for the building of tiny houses. We are the little co-op that could. We are presenting our simple, humble story as a case study, with the hope that anyone else wanting to address food access issues can learn and hopefully help their community have access to food.


1:30 PM - 2:45 PM When the !@#$ Hits the Fan Salon A

Knee-jerk reactions! Cowering! Over the top appeasement! Emotional decision making! These are just some of the natural, human reactions to unexpected strife and bad news. As the board of a startup food co-op, there’s a good chance that you won’t get all the way to doors open without some surprises of the unpleasant variety. How do you as a board prepare to respond well as leaders to these tough moments? What should we do first when unexpected tough times hit? In this workshop we’ll take a look at some real life startup scenarios and talk about what to do first, how to communicate, and how to move beyond these tough moments.

Stages 1-3

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM Case Study - East Aurora Lobby-Salon

Pick your favorite theme -- Hurry up & Wait, The Little Co-op That Could, or Rocky -- but no matter how closely you follow the Co-op Development playbook, things happen.

This session will follow the East Aurora Co-op on its journey from formation in 2010 to opening in 2016.  Check in for stories on site development challenges, capital campaign ups & downs, outside financing hurdles, and more.  Learn what warning signs to watch for and how to keep your chin up when it hits the fan!


2:45 PM - 3:00 PM Break Grand Salon
3:00 PM - 4:15 PM Food Co-op Taxes and Accounting Salon B


We will review the basic accounting and tax issues that your startup co-op needs to be aware of.

Stages 1-3

3:00 PM - 4:15 PM The Power of Re-Branding- A Case Study Salon D

Brand is how you express and communicate your vision and mission as a startup co-op and a strong one can lift up your efforts! How much so? We decided to find out. FCI brought together one excellent startup project in stage 2 development with a visual brand that needed strengthening, Dorchester Food Co-op, and one professional brand designer with startup co-op experience, Melanie Shellito of Artzen, to do a re-brand. What was the process like? Can it really have big impacts for your startup to re-brand in stage 2 to communicate more professionally and consistently? In this case study we'll tell you all about the process and the results, and share tools for launching your own re-brand for maximum impacts!

Stages 2b-3


3:00 PM - 4:15 PM Business Planning Salon C

We will explore what information should go into a business plan and who should be involved in the process of producing your plan.  The plan needs to be a guiding force for management and staff as well as a document that you can bring to lenders for Co-op financing.



Policy Governance® can be a great tool, as part of a larger cooperative governance structure, to foster creativity and experimentation. It also ensures accountability and allows co-op leaders to keep their co-op moving in the right direction without using undesirable means. This session is for anyone in a leadership position in a co-op and explores the sometimes misunderstood tool of Policy Governance®, its core concepts and supporting materials.


Stages 1-2a



3:00 PM - 4:15 PM Culture of the Co-op Salon E

Seward Community Co-op located in Minneapolis, MN has roughly 16,000 owners with annuals sales of $42 million.  In 2015, it opened its second location known as the Friendship Store.  Raynardo Williams, Friendship Store, Manager will discuss how him and his team created a store culture where “Everyone is Welcomed.” He will discuss the need of hiring a diverse staff and hiring within the community. 


The Renaissance Community Co-op opened its doors on October 14, 2016 after more than 18 years of community work to bring a grocery store back to Northeast Greensboro. The RCC alleviates the food desert status the community lived in since 1998, and will build an economic engine for future community-led development.

The RCC offers a primarily conventional product mix in a low-resource, predominantly African-American community with a history of political and economic marginalization. Sohnie Black and Dave Reed, staff members at the Fund for Democratic Communities who are providing technical assistance to the co-op, will share the success, challenges, and early lessons learned in the months following the RCC’s launch.


3:00 PM - 4:15 PM NCG - What it is and What it does Grand Salon

Since 1999, U.S. food co-ops have been putting the ideals of “cooperation among co-ops” into practice through their own second-level co-op, National Co+op Grocers. Today, this is a co-op owned by 138 U.S. food co-ops that brings together over $2 billion in purchasing power. Come learn more about how NCG works, what it does, and how it makes a big impact in the operations and success of its member and associate co-op partners. Join us for a quick-paced overview of NCG now and its plans to continue to strengthen the food co-op as a sector and a movement. Anyone is welcome to join this session – those involved with co-ops that are already part of NCG, as well as those considering joining in the future.


4:15 PM - 4:30 PM Break Grand Salon
4:30 PM - 5:45 PM Why Some Co-ops Fail Salon A

Why do some new food co-ops exceed expectations and thrive while others struggle to survive and eventually fail? After following over 100 startups in the last 10 years, there are some consistent indicators that have emerged. Find out how your co-op can be a winner by adopting best practices during your development.

Stages 1-3


4:30 PM - 5:45 PM Case Study - Friendship Store Lobby-Salon

Seward Community Co-op located in Minneapolis, MN has roughly 16,000 owners with annual sales $42 million . In 2015, it opened its second location known as the Friendship Store. Raynardo Williams, Friendship Store, Manager will discuss “The Road to Friendship: Addressing Equity During Co-op Expansion”.  He will be discussing the steps, community engagement, organizing and alignment him and others worked to overcome concerns from community members and neighborhood association groups.    



4:30 PM - 5:45 PM Sources of Funding Panel Salon E

Does your co-op need to raise more money? Is your co-op located in a lower-resourced community? Traditionally more resilient than other businesses during economically challenging times, cooperatives can be a great support to their communities in times of political and economic uncertainty. Yet, in order to do so, co-ops need to have sufficient money in the bank. Our panelists have recent experience with a variety of funding sources that could be just the ticket for your project; two of their co-ops are located in lower-income communities. What are the pros and cons of grants? Member equity? Member loans? Direct Public Offerings (DPOs)? Come with your questions and we’ll see if we can provide answers.



4:30 PM - 5:45 PM Merchandising Your Store Salon C

We will review the major driving forces behind grocery shopper’s choices, the 5 P’s of merchandising (product, price, placement, promotion and presentation), look at photos of good and poor merchandising and learn some specific merchandising tactics to consider for your Co-op.

4:30 PM - 5:45 PM Ownership Goals Salon D

How many owners does it take to open a successful food co-op? The answer is dependent on multiple factors and setting the right ownership goals for your co-op can be tricky. In this workshop we’ll talk about how to set initial ownership goals, how to refine them and based on what information, how to communicate those goals to owners, and how to leverage those ownership goals for growth momentum.

Stages 1-2a

4:30 PM - 5:45 PM Financial Feasibility Salon B

"Financial feasibility" is a central piece of proving the overall feasibility of your startup co-op project and a key responsibility of a startup board in serving the owners of their co-op.. How does a board figure out if their startup food co-op can be financially feasible? What tools are used to prove financial feasibility? What is the process for proving financial feasibility and when should we start it? Bill Gessner of CDS Consulting will define what "financial feasibility" is, walk attendees through why it is so important, and outline the processes for testing financial feasibility that have been successful for startups. Common pitfalls for startup financial feasibility process and how to avoid them will be covered as well as how to figure out when is the right time to start the process for your co-op.


Stage 2

6:30 PM - 8:00 PM Reception Intercontinenal Milwaukee Hotel - Zenden and Gallerie M

Saturday, March 11, 2017

7:15 AM - 8:15 AM Continental Breakfast Grand Salon
8:30 AM - 9:45 AM Hiring Your GM Salon A

Hiring a General Manager is one of the biggest decisions that a board of directors will ever get to make. This workshop will help board members prepare by providing an overview of the priorities and responsibilities during the GM search and hiring process. Melanie will discuss how to determine GM qualifications, provide tips for handling the interview process and offer suggestions for creating an attractive compensation package. She will introduce available tools and resources and answer your questions. 

Stage 2


8:30 AM - 9:45 AM Conventional Food Distribution Salon E

If you are planning to offer conventional grocery lines (alongside natural and organic) in your co-op, you will need to find suppliers willing to work with independent grocery stores. Learn about the U.S. wholesale grocery supplier landscape, and find out how to identify your options and negotiate the best pricing and terms  possible. 


8:30 AM - 9:45 AM Lease Negotiations for Start-ups Salon B

Negotiating lease terms that meet the needs of your startup co-op is one of the most important things you will do for your co-op's future and how well you do it will impact the success of your co-op for years to come. And yet, most of us are not experienced commercial lease negotiators, so how do we make sure we do it right? Bill Gessner of CDS Consulting has coached many startups through this critical task and in this workshop will walk you through the most important issues of lease negotiation for startups. He will cover how to plan and prepare for lease negotiations; what the most critical issues are in negotiating a lease for your co-op's preferred site; guidelines for effective negotiating, and how to assemble a team to plan and carry through the negotiations.






Stage 2


8:30 AM - 9:45 AM P6 Program Salon C

Food Co-ops have a long history of supporting small, local and cooperatively owned producers and businesses. In recent years, however, the natural and organic food movement is seeing rapid change, an increase in competition paired with consolidation leave co-op values in jeopardy. While it is important to find a competitive edge within the retail grocery market, as co-op’s it is equally important to keep cooperative principles a priority. This workshop outlines the P6 program, and builds a case for the importance of elevating small, local and cooperatively owned farmers and producers throughout the envisioning of your future co-op.   



8:30 AM - 9:45 AM Using Social Media Salon D

Facebook and Snapchat and Twitter, oh my! Some social media platforms are great fits for startup food co-ops, and some fall flat. What’s the latest on which platforms work best? How many of these platforms should you try and use, as many as possible or just one or two? Presenter Jacqueline Hannah has got the answers as well as tips galore on how to create a social media voice that attracts followers and builds your co-op.

Stages:  All


8:30 AM - 9:45 AM Case Study - Clifton Market Lobby-Salon

Let’s Put the Grocery Back in the Grocery Store!

On January 6, 2011, the State of Ohio closed the beloved IGA that was the anchor of the Ludlow Avenue Business District in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio.

In all the juggling to survive the recession, the owners got behind in their sales taxes.

People rallied, collected 1500 signatures asking the new Governor, John Kasich, to make a payment arrangement and save 60 jobs. He ignored us and the wholesaler, Nash Finch, found another local IGA owner to buy the property. He bought it and gutted it. Then he ran into financial challenges in his other three stores. In August, 2013 all renovation construction had stopped. A small group of people in the neighborhood and friends had a meeting to explore the co-op form of incorporation in Ohio as a way to share our money for a common goal:  “Let’s Put the Grocery Back in the Grocery Store!”

We incorporated in January, 2014 and held our first Public Meeting March 15, 2014.

We sold over 100 Shares the first day. We engaged Keith Wicks of Keith Wicks Associates, Minneapolis and Randy Miller of Cincinnati, both highly experienced in grocery market analysis and operations to help us create our Business Plan and Pro Forma. We were able to begin taking Owner Loans July 28, 2014. Phase 1 was “Buy the Building.” We met with the National Coop Bank (NCB) and Shared Capital Cooperative (SCC) in February, 2015 at the Up and Coming Conference in Bloomington.  We were able to close on the property in April, 2015. We then needed to raise the equity through Owner Shares, Loans and Gifts of $1.8M to close on  $1.85 M for construction with NCB and $1.1 M from SCC, including $700,000 from the Fiscal Fund.

Come and hear about our Marketing, Advertising, PR and Fundraising strategies as we survived:

Phase 1:  Buy the Building-- negotiating for the property

Phase 2: Fundraising for Financing and Construction.

Phase 3: More Fundraising and Gala Opening Festivities


Bring your questions and your solutions. The amazing effect of the co-op model is that “We are Building Community while we Build our Grocery Store.”  Check out our TV commercials on our website!



How AMS Serves Food Cooperatives

AMS (Ag Marketing Services, an agency of USDA) offers a variety of products, services and grant opportunities that are uniquely positioned to assist with the development of food cooperatives in both rural and urban areas. Attendees will learn about examples from other food cooperatives that have used AMS grant funding to expand their operations through promotional and marketing research activities. Additionally, they will gain a better sense of how AMS’ research division supports data collection and market intelligence efforts used to understand, promote and facilitate linkages between local food producers, distributors, retailers and consumers. At the conclusion of the presentation, time will be permitted to discuss ways AMS can use existing products such as the Local Food Enterprise Directories and our facility design services to better support the food cooperative community.


9:45 AM - 10:00 AM Break Grand Salon
10:00 AM - 11:15 AM Leveraging Events for Ownership Growth Salon D

Ever wondered what it would take to get 45 new members in a single night? What if you could do it twice? That’s what the Oshkosh Food Co-op did with its Co-op Grow-op events. In this presentation, Oshkosh Food Co-op Board Members describe the approach they used to plan, execute and maintain momentum from the events.

Stage 2


10:00 AM - 11:15 AM Relationship Building with Local Vendors Salon C

A strong and authentic local program is one of the best ways for your Co-op to set itself apart from the competition. In this workshop we'll discuss how to find local vendors, how to develop long term relationships that work for both the vendor and your co-op, how to navigate the pitfalls and difficulties of local product sourcing, and how to market your local relationships effectively. 


10:00 AM - 11:15 AM Insurance for Start-ups Salon B

Kapatoes Insurance will be presenting on the Insurance life of the Food Cooperative.  From start-up to storefront we will discuss the elements of insurance you need to implement to protect the Coop, it’s members and Board of Directors.  Topics will include; Directors & Officers Insurance, Event Liability, Builders Risk/Build Out insurance, Storefront insurance.   Main focus on timeline for each insurance policy that the Coop will need to place along the way.

Stages 1-2

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM Case Study - Sugar Beet Lobby-Salon

Well, The First Years are the Hardest Years....
How the Sugar Beet Co-op went from the seed of an idea
to making (a little) profit in 5 years.

Peter Nolan, the Sugar Beet’s Board President, will share the story of how the Beet came to be.  This case study will start with the founding of the Co-op, funding, finding a space, more funding, hiring a GM, and our grand opening.  Then we will delve deeply into the lessons we have learned from our first year and half in business.


10:00 AM - 11:15 AM Assembling Your Leadership Team Salon A

Focused and effective leadership is a component of all successful co-op startups. This workshop gets into the nuts and bolts of putting together that winning leadership team. We’ll explore what a leadership team does, some of the attributes of successful teams, how to find these folks and how to help them do their best work.

Stages 1-2


10:00 AM - 11:15 AM Achieving Racial Diversity in Food Co-ops Salon E

Food co-operatives in the United States have successfully transformed the U.S. grocery industry into one which now offers a full array of healthy and organic foods to a variety of consumers. These co-ops have had an enormous positive impact on our society: both in terms of healthy food but also in demonstrating a successful community-owned business model. But those benefits have not been shared equally—U.S. food co-ops are owned and operated by a demographic that is overwhelming white. Committed to the co-op values of democracy, equality, equity and solidarity, how can today’s food co-ops become beacons of light in a society plagued by racial injustices? Explore these issues with others who share your concerns.




10:00 AM - 11:15 AM NCG - What it is and What it does Grand Salon

Since 1999, U.S. food co-ops have been putting the ideals of “cooperation among co-ops” into practice through their own second-level co-op, National Co+op Grocers. Today, this is a co-op owned by 138 U.S. food co-ops that brings together over $2 billion in purchasing power. Come learn more about how NCG works, what it does, and how it makes a big impact in the operations and success of its member and associate co-op partners. Join us for a quick-paced overview of NCG now and its plans to continue to strengthen the food co-op as a sector and a movement. Anyone is welcome to join this session – those involved with co-ops that are already part of NCG, as well as those considering joining in the future.


11:15 AM - 11:30 AM Break Grand Salon
11:30 AM - 12:45 PM To $1 Million and Beyond Salon D

Every year the cost of building a grocery store is going up and up. In the last year we've seen startup proformas needing $1 million or more in owner investment (loans, preferred shares, or a combination) to be feasible . . . but is it feasible to raise this much? We'll take a look at what's driving up the costs of building our stores, what factors make it more likely your startup will need to raise $1 million or more, and look at how possible it is. This session will feature the case study of Green Top Grocery, a startup in Normal, IL, that raised over $1.4 million through their owner loan campaign that wrapped up in November. How did they make it all the way to their goal? What factors led to their success? What were the biggest challenges? What can we learn from their experience? Join us and find out!"


Stage 2



11:30 AM - 12:45 PM How to be a Great Employer (pre-open) Salon A

(This workshop is intended for Board members)

Boards of Directors are in the unique position of having a sole employee, the General Manager. This workshop is designed to help Board members explore what it means to think like a great boss. Topics will include: building a shared sense of purpose and shared goals; providing regular communication and meaningful performance feedback; supporting your GM’s development; setting clear expectations and sustaining a relationship built on trust and respect.





11:30 AM - 12:45 PM Store Planning Salon B

What makes a good store design, how to organize your team, how to be efficient during the process. How do you know what your store needs and how it should be organized? How to use the design process, what areas to focus on in the design, how to plan for the project—these are some of the topics covered in this workshop.


Stage 2b


11:30 AM - 12:45 PM Sizing Up the Competition Salon C

When determining how your co-op will carve out its place in the marketplace, it is important to understand with whom you will be sharing the competitive landscape.  This workshop focuses on how to evaluate your competitors’ operational strengths and build your own differentiation and competitive strategies based on your own unique market.  

11:30 AM - 12:45 PM Case Study - Green Top Lobby-Salon

The idea for Green Top Grocery started with four people in a tiny study room of their local library. Fast forward five exciting, terrifying, exhausting, frustrating, exhilarating and rewarding years later and Green Top is mere months away from opening their doors. Two of the original five people in that library room — Jerica Etheridge and Melanie Shellito — remain with the project to this day and will present the case study on Green Top Grocery. These sisters kept each other sane during the darker days every start-up has, and will share with you the ups and downs of it all. Board turmoil? you bet. Down to about $150 in the bank account? been there. Stalled around 400 owners? we feel ya. And yet, through the incredible power of cooperation, some rockstar mentoring, amazing owners, tireless volunteers... Green Top survived and has even been called one of the top start-ups in the country. Join us for the story of GTG's thrills, chills and spills, and leave knowing if we survived it, so can you.


Rural communities face an on-going challenge in retaining viable grocery stores. In this session, Kevin Edberg will facilitate a discussion about the issue, trying to identify what we think we know, what successes/bright spots might exist, what, if anything, the co-op model might have to say for rural communities.  Bring your experiences, observations and questions; be prepared for thoughtful dialog.


12:45 PM - 1:45 PM Lunch Grand Salon
1:45 PM - 3:00 PM Case Study: BisMan Food Co-op Lobby Salon

"Moving through the Development Process with Patience and Perseverance”


BisMan Community Food Co-op's Outreach and Communications Coordinator Heidi Demars will share the strategies she used to tell the cooperative story while engaging member-owners, building strong community support, and implementing plenty of P6!"



How do you decide which programs - and how big - to put in your store before you have a GM? What are some processes to use that will help make critical decisions during the store planning process? What are current market trends on fresh foods?

Stage 2


1:45 PM - 3:00 PM The Power of Vision Salon A

Without out a clear vision that resonates deeply with your community, your startup is going nowhere fast. Your vision drives your communication, your ownership growth, and eventually even shapes your co-op’s ability to compete in the marketplace. Not sure if your co-op has a vision that can get you to the finish line? Know the tricks of shaping a powerful vision? Have a great vision that is sitting on a website somewhere gathering dust while you struggle to gain new owners? All of this and more will be addressed in this workshop so you can build a vision that is pure rocket fuel and know how to use it to power your co-op’s future!

Stages 1-2


Having a deli is one thing, having one that runs profitably is a whole other thing! When your program is small and/or struggling, what are some quick ways to improve inefficiencies and sales that are no-nonsense and something you can implement fast to get things going in the right direction? Join our two experts from the successful Willy Street Food Co-op that have over a decade of experience running, improving, and managing successful deli and food service operations and get powerful ideas to take back to your co-op deli!

1:45 PM - 3:00 PM Capital Campaigns: Behind the Scenes Salon D

A Capital Campaign can feel daunting and intimidating. If you’ve read or perused the Capital Campaign Tool Kit you may be wondering where do I start? How on earth will we raise that much money? Green Top Grocery Owner Loan Campaign Chair, Katie Novak recently lead an effort to raise over $1.4 million in owner loans and will share how she took the great information in the Tool Kit and created a system that works. You’ll learn exactly where to start, how to create your teams (yes! You need more than 1 team) and how to implement a system that generates results.


Stage 2


1:45 PM - 3:00 PM Fostering a Racially Just Food System Salon E

This session will examine ways is which racism creates inequities in in the food system.  It will offer suggested steps for individuals involved in food co-ops and other aspects of food system work to address their own internalized racism and for food organizations and institutions to create policies and practices intended to foster racial equity.

3:00 PM - 3:15 PM Break Grand Salon
3:15 PM - 3:45 PM Closing - Awards - Prizes Grand Salon