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Development Checklist

The Development Checklist for Startup Food Co-ops is an easy reference to the tasks that must be completed in each stage of your co-op’s progress toward opening.

La Guia De FCI Para Iniciar Una Cooperativa De Alimentos

La Guia De FCI Para Iniciar Una Cooperativa De Alimentos

Esta publicación ha sido un esfuerzo cooperativo entre todas las personas que se esfuerzan por construir la economía cooperativa compartiendo nuestro conocimiento y experiencia.

Users’ Guide to the Sources & Uses Budget

A Sources and Uses budget (S&U) is one of the most important business planning tools that a startup co-op will use. The primary purpose of the S&U is to ensure that co-op organizers know how much money will be needed to open their storefront and where that money will come from. As long as your combined capital from all sources equals (or exceeds!) the expenses you will incur to open the store and provide necessary operating capital, you should be able to get a food co-op open. This guide will walk you through all the pieces that make up the budget and explain their importance.

The FCI Guide to Starting a Food Co-op – download

Our comprehensive guide for groups starting a retail food co-op, with steps, case studies, templates, and more for every stage from organizing to implementation. NOTE: This FREE DOWNLOAD will automatically load to your default download site when you click on it.

The FCI Guide to Starting a Food Co-op – hard copy

This is our comprehensive guide for communities who want to start their own retail food co-op. We walk you through all the stages from creating a vision to opening the doors.

Cooperatives and the US Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has opened its’ doors to working with startup cooperative businesses. This is exciting news as it makes several of the SBA resources available to co-ops now. There remains an obstacle  for cooperatives in meeting the requirement of a loan guarantor.  Discussions on that front continue between the SBA and cooperative leaders. Learn more here.

Legal Primer

Must read – incorporation, articles and by-laws, membership, equity, liability, patronage,  more.

New Food Co-op Startup Map

Looking for a food co-op forming near you?  FCI maintains this map of new retail food co-ops under development in the U.S.

Sources & Uses Budget Template

The Sources & Uses budget is an essential tool for planning the capital needed to start your co-op. How much will it cost? What expenses do you need to plan for? Where will the money come from? This template is designed to allow you to develop your budget using established benchmarks and averages. Click to Download Template: Template updated February 2020.

Let’s Start a Food Co op: What Do We Do First?

Review this webinar for a great intro to the startup process, and learn what you should start doing right now—and what you shouldn’t. Find the path that works.

Quick Tips: Why Does Opening a Co-op Take So Long?

It’s the question ALL startups ask.  It is a tough one potential owners puzzle over. We talk about it on the FAQ page. In this short video, FCI’s Jacqueline Hannah has some super answers.  A great tool for startups and their targeted supporters.

A Food Co-op In Your Community

An excellent video to share with prospective members who are new to the concept of a retail food co-op.

A Food Co-op in Your Community Slides

Tell Your Story Effectively

This PowerPoint presentation is designed for you to customize. Therefore, you can add or modify slides to share your unique vision and highlight the progress you have already made.  Use it for community outreach and education, owner recruitment, or volunteer orientations.  Text and pictures help introduce your audience to food co-ops and describe the process you will use to organize yours.

The Wonderful World of Grocery

Webinar features the GM of Outpost Natural Foods telling the co-op story from its start in the 1970’s to the present. Outpost learned as it grew, and is a major advocate for all food co-ops.

Legal Issues in Stage 1

Featuring: incorporation, equity, liability & more. With Thane Joyal & Ben Sandel of CDS Consulting Co-op.

Effective and Accountable Organizing Teams

Great materials from a workshop on improving your board or steering team’s effectiveness and productivity.

Tips for Forming Your Steering Committee

Co-op steering committees should think cooperatively! Great tips from a peer startup.

Your Best Meeting Ever

This webinar shows you how to use timing, materials, agendas, and other preparation to pull off a great meeting every time.

Messaging 101 for Startups

Defining your key messages & reaching stakeholders are imperative. Explore some great ways to commuinicate.

Vision Cornerstone Video Series

This four-part video series provides a deep dive on the Vision Cornerstone of the 4-in-3 development model.

Creating a Vision

Excellent video to help startups understand the process of creating a shared vision.

Interest Survey Template and Manual

Download this comprehensive guide to using servery to learn about the needs and interest in your community, then check out the survey template you can use for your own survey.

Member Equity Toolbox

What is  a membership/ownership program? How many owners do we need? How do we set our ownership investment level? Learn about the steps needed to start recruiting owners, and how to grow your ownership level.  See the Capital Campaign Workbook for owner loan campaigns.

Ownership Growth: A Numbers Game

Tracking your potential members and building creative promotions  ideas from an experienced outreach manager.

Volunteer Recruitment and Retention

Insights on getting and keeping great volunteers from Bonnie Hudspeth, one of the founders of Monadnock Food Co-op, and member program manager for NFCA.

Membership Building with Events – House Parties and More

A webinar highlighting the process for using house parties, tabling, and other outreach events to build ownership.  See also the slides for this presentation.

Membership Building with Events – House Parties and More SLIDES

Auto download the Slides for this popular video presentation. To be used with the video webinar highlighting the process for using house parties, tabling, and other outreach events to build ownership.

Setting Ownership Goals

Growing your owner base is critical. Ownership levels help determine when you do studies, a capital campaign, and open your doors. Click here to learn how to set the right goals.

Marketing for Membership

Marketing and ownership recruitment go hand-in-hand. Use your brand, logo, and materials effectively.

Love Those Lawn Signs!

Lawn signs, yard signs—anyway you look at them, these colorful signs honor your owners while showing the whole community that the co-op is coming.

Stop Rolling the Dice With Membership

This webinar discusses how to strategize and prioritize your plans  to build membership through all three stages of food co-op development.

Raising Your First $10,000

Ideally, co-ops raise funds for startup costs through member equity. But what about co-ops that have not yet incorporated? This webinar covers fundraising strategies for early in the organizing process.

Up & Coming videos

View selected workshops that were recorded at past conferences.

Membership Brochure Sample/Template

A professional image is important to attract member owners. This sample and available template can help.

Effective Boards and Teams I

Webinar that helps boards and teams build structure and accountability.

Effective Boards and Teams II

Webinar that helps boards and teams with team-work, process, and decision-making..

Development Flowcharts By Stage

Download to assist in your 4 in 3 planning. A graphical flowchart for each stage, and an over-sized one for your planning wall.

Bylaws Basics I & II

Bylaws establish guidelines for how your organization will run. Learn the best practices for startups co-ops when writing their bylaws.

Insurance 101 for Food Co-ops

Dane Meisler of Kapatoes Insurance Services discusses the insurance needs of health food stores and retail food co-ops at all stages—from startup to store opening.

Taxes and Accounting for Co-ops

Webinar features a CPA sharing tax and financial record requirements and best practices for startups and newly opened co-ops.

Sample Chart of Accounts

Click to download: Excel Spreadsheet CoCoCOA – Sample Chart of Accounts from CoMetrics

River Valley Market: A Startup Case Study

This webinar reviews the startup  steps of  River Valley Co-op in Northampton, MA, which opened in June 2009.

Why Some Co-ops Fail

Cooperative Grocer Magazine article by Stuart Reid in May-June 2016.

Directories of Open Co-ops

Three sites that list open co-ops, as well as some startups.

Feasibility FAQ & Checklists

Info you need to evaluate the feasibility of your plans and gather the information you will need to move forward. Does not replace a feasibility study.

Mentoring Can Make All the Difference

Established Co-ops Helping Startups: Cooperative Grocer Magazine article by Jacqueline Hannah in March-April 2016.

Co-op as Hero: Storytelling for Startups

If heroes are known by the things they do in pursuit of a noble purpose, then your co-op is definitely a heroic force. Learn frameworks and strategies to super-charge your co-op’s story into a narrative with passion, energy, and a shared sense of purpose within your co-op’s community.

Branding Stage 1: inquiry and gaining momentum

From our Branding Time Three series: What is a “brand”? How does it reflects our identity as a co-op?

Interest Survey User’s Manual

The comprehensive guide to community and member surveys . Pairs with the survey template that you can adapt or use for inspiration.

Interest Survey Template

The food co-op interest survey template that you can adapt or use for inspiration.  Pairs with comprehensive guide to community and member surveys.

Sample Project Manager Job Description

Click to download this handout companion to the video An Insider’s Look at Project Management.

Just Food Development Timeline

Click  to download the PDF.  An example of the actual planning and implementation process from a successful start-up

An Insiders Look at Project Management

Learn how your co-op can jump start its development with project management. Hear from a project manager who helped her co-op get a successful start, and about the board’s responsibilities as an employer.

A Tale of Two Co-ops

Cooperative Grocer Magazine article featuring East Aurora and Bisman food co-ops,  by Stuart Reid in Sept-Oct 2016.

DataBasics: Data Needs for Startup Co ops

In this webinar we look at tools and technologies available to help co-ops manage data: member-owners, capital campaigns, volunteers, and more.

Policy Templates for Startups

Comprehensive set of board policies designed specifically for startup co-ops. Includes suggested board agreements and policies for each stage of organizing, along with committee charters.

Developing a Budget For a Food Cooperative

Budget planning begins early in the startup process, and continues through every stage. Get a good start.

Bringing Grocery Stores to Low-Income Urban Food Deserts

Cooperative Grocer Magazine article by Mary Stennes Wilbourn in Nov-Dec 2015..

Intro to Food Co-op Finance

Jump start your food co-op financial learning curve with this video presentation.

Monadnock Food Co-op: Case Study

From organizing to opening the store–practical insights for all stages.

Startup Business Plan Example

A sample business plan from Friendly CIty, a successful co-op that opened in 2011.

Startup Support Chart

Shows how startups interact with FCI, but also CDS Consulting Co-op, National Co+op Grocers and NCG’s Development Co-op.

Forming Your Steering Committee

Click to download this handout to guide your group through the process.

Building a Strong Base: group process and leadership

Startup co-ops are all about group process. Learn ways leadership and group members s can work together to move the co-op forward.

Strategic Leadership

Leadership of a grassroots startup will evolve as the organization reaches new stages. Strategic leadership can help leaders grow with the co-op.

Meetings: Golden Rule Guide to the Rules

Robert’s Rules of Order primer and simple clarifications.

Policy Governance Source Document

A detailed look at how Carver Board Governance is structured.

Timelines for Members

Easy-to-share timeline based on membership goals rather than fixed dates. Article, examples, and template.