March 2018 Newsletter
Catching You Up on the Co-op
Hope lives for the Co-op! In a surprise groundswell of support our member-owners have voted to save the Co-op and raise the funds needed to relocate to a new space in the neighborhood. Read on to learn how you can help us raise $30K in 30 days!
You can also invite folks to support the Co-op by coming to our fundraising show at C’mon Everybody on April 30. Spread the word!
Meet founding member and Indiegogo campaigner Sarah Chinn in this month’s Co-op Q&A.
Saving Our Co-op
Not long ago, things were looking grim for the Greene Hill Food Co-op. After months of uncertainty, we had received a notice that our recently renewed least was going to be terminated, as the building’s owners had sold it to a developer. Our sales were down, in large part due to the ambiguity of our situation, and we were carrying debt owed to our members and the Park Slope Food Co-op. The Co-op board met and decided that our only option was to close and possibly declare bankruptcy.
But a couple of weeks before the meeting that was called for members to vote on this decision, a couple of members, Lindsay Reichart and Sarah Chinn, committed themselves to finding a new space and to crafting a plan to raise the money to underwrite the move. They scouted locations, put together an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds, and wrote a proposal to present to the membership.
The meeting was packed — over 60 members attended. The stakes could not have been higher: would we vote to close the Co-op or to take the risk of trying to relocate? After serious conversation, exploring all the options, the proposal was put to the vote, and was passed unanimously.
Then, Sarah and Lindsay moved into high gear. They focused on recruiting members to help design the Indiegogo campaign, negotiating with building owners to find the right space for the right price, and reaching out to other co-ops around the country to build support. Members of the Marketing committee crafted a social media strategy, and other members worked together to draft press releases, emails to members and others, and an article for the Park Slope Food Coop newsletter.
Now we need you! Our motto for the Indiegogo campaign is 30K in 30 days! On day three we’ve already raised almost one half of our goal with the support of well over 100 backers. We need everyone to pitch in to save our Co-op. Go to our Indiegogo Campaign and give as much as you can. Spread the word to friends! Share our Indiegogo site! This is a group effort and together we can do it!
– Sarah Chinn, founding member of Greene Hill food Co-op
Mark Your Calendar to Get Down for the Co-op!
Looking for a fun way to support the Co-op? Come to our fundraiser at neighborhood hotspot C'mon Everybody on Franklin Avenue on Monday, April 30. Invite your friends and spread the love! There will be live music by Morgan O'Kane & Zeke Healy and tunes from DJ Dirtyfinger. C’mon Everybody is a friendly bar, lounge, gallery, and live arts space located not far from the Co-op at 25 Franklin Avenue between Clifton Place and Greene Avenue.
Open Shopping Weekends till We Move
Members took to the streets, handing out tangerines and apples to passersby inviting them into our store to boost sales. The Co-op is opening its doors to non-members on all weekends till we move at the end of April.
The Co-op Q&A with Sarah Chinn
Store Coordinator Lindsay Reichart (left) and Merchandising Co-Chair Sarah Chinn (right) after the proposal to relocate the Co-op passed in a unanimous vote, an amazing turnaround from the feared closure. After days spent looking for spaces and drafting an Indiegogo campaign, this dynamic duo presented their findings to over 60 member-owners and the Board at a special meeting of the membership, providing us with a promising opportunity to continue, and even improve, our neighborhood co-op.
Sarah Chinn is a founding member of the Co-op who has been especially busy this past month, spearheading our Indiegogo campaign. Below, she shares why she’s involved in this work and how the relocation proposal came to be.
Q: How did you first become involved with the Greene Hill Food Co-op? What were some of your reasons for joining?
A: I’ve been involved since we were meeting in a church hall. I’d been a member of the Park Slope Food Coop since 1990, when it was in just a single store without a produce cooler, freezers, or scanners, and had less than a thousand members. After moving to Clinton Hill in 1999 it was more and more difficult to get over there, especially after our kids were born, and the sense of community I had felt at Park Slope was not keeping up with its enormous growth. I was looking for the same values closer to home, without the lines, crowds, and shlep. So once I heard that a co-op was opening here, I jumped on board!
Q: At the last all-member meeting, you and Lindsay presented a proposal for relocating the Co-op, which was unanimously approved. How did that come about?
A: That’s a great question! I think I had been in denial about the possibility that the Co-op could close, and had just been carrying on as though nothing would change. When we got the lease termination notice and the Board decided that our only financially responsible option was to close and declare bankruptcy, I realized that we had to at least see what was out there. I knew that a committee of members had put in a lot of work last year to try to find a new location, but prices were too high, and negotiations fell through. But I knew, too, that commercial rents had softened quite a bit since then, and it was worth trying again. Lindsay jumped in with a couple of possible properties, and we researched about ten more. Lindsay did a lot of the leg work — looking at spaces, talking to realtors. She really liked the Fulton Street storefront, and as soon as I saw it I agreed.
I realized that we needed to raise money, so I researched some crowd-funding possibilities. There was no way we could do this without major fundraising! Indiegogo made the most sense, so I drafted a campaign. I wrote up a proposal, and shared the draft with the Board and some other folks who had expressed interest. At the same time, Lindsay brought in some members who could assess the space and do a preliminary floor plan.
We presented all of that at the meeting. I thought it was an amazing conversation: we had to work through what the risks and advantages of the move would be, and take the Board’s recommendation seriously. It really was cooperation at work.
Q: What roles do you play at the Co-op?
A: I’m the co-chair of the Merchandise Committee — we’re responsible for everything you see on the shelves at the Co-op! I order dairy and frozen items. A lot of that work is tracking sales with our Point- of-Sale system, Revel. It’s a great tool for working out what’s selling and how fast. I also fill in as cashier when there are open shifts I can make. It’s great to close the merch loop: seeing members buying items that I’ve ordered, getting real feedback about what members like and why.
Q: Why is the Co-op valuable to you personally?
A: I really love this neighborhood! We moved here almost twenty years ago because it was a historically African-American, mixed-income, queer-friendly area. It seemed like the perfect place for us. We were excited about being involved in local projects that benefited the neighborhood — helping start a co-operative preschool, participating in a CSA — and the Co-op was an extension of that. Just as important, I like being able to know what food I’m buying, where it comes from, supporting local farms and producers.
Q: What do you do when you’re not at the Co-op?
A: I teach in the English department at Hunter College, and I’m also the department chair. My partner and I have 16-year-old twins (who eat most of the food we buy at the Co-op!), two cats, and two guinea pigs. I play the guitar (badly), run and bike (slowly), and bake a lot.
Lost Our Lease article by Sarah Chinn. Photo credits: Photos of the Co-op vote, members handing out fruit, and Lindsay and Sarah by DK Holland.
The Greene Hill Food Co-op Monthly is edited and published by the following member-owners (in alphabetical order): Liz Baker, Carola Burroughs, DK Holland, Alexandra (Aly) Miller, and Gitta Zomorodi. Contact us with any feedback, suggestions, or requests at TheMonthly@greenehillfood.coop.