After a month of campaigning, the Kootenay Co-op reached — and then exceeded — its goal of raising $1.5 million.
The final tally? More than $1,768,200 million in member loans for its new store, slated to open mid-2015 on the east end of Nelson’s downtown core.
“We are so completely delighted with the response from our member-owners,” says board director and member loans committee chair Susan Morrison. “The response from day one of the program was really positive; people appreciated how the loans program was both a local, ethical investment opportunity and a way to help the Co-op grow.”
This success has implications beyond Nelson and area, says Morrison. “The success of this campaign shines a light on the region as a whole. To the best of our knowledge, this is the most money raised in a member-loans campaign for food co-operatives in North America! It’s such a clear sign of how special this community is.”
Marketing manager Jocelyn Carver says the two highest sums previously gathered are from Linden Hills at $1.4 million and Seward at $1.46 million. Both are in Minneapolis.
“The Twin Cities are really the biggest co-op hotspot of North America in many ways and obviously have a much larger population to draw from,” she says.
During the month of October, the Member Loans committee made up of a combination of staff, board directors and member-volunteers mailed letters, made phone calls, attended a booth at the Co-op, spoke at events and “ate, drank and dreamt about member loans”, says loans program coordinator Marya Skrypiczajko.
The loan sizes ranged from $1000 to well over $25,000. Member loans provide the Co-op with patient capital at preferable rates, contributing significantly to a healthier financial start for the new store.
“We learned a lot during this campaign. One lesson was about the way money can convey more than a market valuation,” says Morrison. “The dollar amount was one dimension of the loan; the other was an expression of trust, enthusiasm and good will from the lenders. It was a very meaningful experience to interact with our members in this way.”
“Our lenders really reflected the diversity amongst our 11,000 members,” relates Skrypiczajko. “We heard from farmers who have supplied the Co-op for years to people who have just moved to the area and who became members only days before… and everyone in between!”
“We are very grateful to all of our members for their participation in this month-long campaign,” says Morrison. “And for their membership and patronage of the Co-op, regardless of whether they were able to make a loan at this time or not. It takes a strong community to raise a Co-op!”
The Board of Directors will also be discussing the feedback which came from many members who are interested in future investment opportunities with the Kootenay Co-op. “We had a lot of people say they weren’t able to participate now, but hope that we will offer a similar opportunity in the future. That’s something we definitely want to consider,” says Morrsion.
As the Member Loans campaign comes to completion the Nelson Commons project is preparing to kick in to high gear. Pre-sales for the residential units will begin on November 20th. While many people have pre-selected units with the intention of purchasing, there are still units available.
The Co-op held a member loan campaign in 1991 and raised $100,000.