Press-Republican

January 14, 2013

Ti food co-op gets rolling

By LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — TICONDEROGA — A market study in Ticonderoga says the area has sufficient sales potential to support a natural-foods co-op.

Local officials say that, as a result, they’re moving ahead on the effort to create a food cooperative for the Ticonderoga area.

The recently released report by CDS Consulting of St. Paul, Minn., was conducted in two phases, PRIDE of Ticonderoga Executive Director Sharon Reynolds said.

One was a market study that yielded a sales-forecast analysis and the other an evaluation of proposed sites in the downtown.

REGISTER INTEREST

“It was clear that management of a member-owner food co-op is a major requirement for success,” Reynolds said in an email. “A food co-op can take three to five years to open. That’s because you need people who are committed to a co-op and will work to see it established.”

She said to keep the conversation going and to learn more about how to bring a natural-food store to the area, PRIDE is asking residents of Ticonderoga and the surrounding communities who are interested in knowing more about the idea and who want to be involved to email her at: sreynolds@prideof

ticonderoga.org.

SALES POTENTIAL

The study of the Ticonderoga market area has resulted in a number of findings and conclusions regarding the proposed co-op food store, Reynolds said.

Among them was the definition of the trade area and the population within it, a summary of the demographic composition and a review of the competitive environment that exists.

The closest food co-op now is 45 minutes away in Middlebury, Vt., Reynolds said.

“According to the market study, the population size, including seasonal residents, and the demographic composition of the market area, as well as the weak competitive environment with other natural-food stores, it appears that there is enough sales potential to support a co-op food store.”

She said that meshes with the experiences of other natural-foods co-ops in similar market situations.

GROCERY OPTIONS

The Ticonderoga area has only one grocery store, the food department within the Ticonderoga Wal-Mart SuperCenter at the Four Corners, but that could be beneficial to a local co-op, Reynolds said.

“Wal-Mart can attract more food-store shoppers into the co-op’s vicinity, and co-op shoppers can supplement their weekly grocery purchases at a conventional grocery store.”

The second phase of the study did a sales forecast analysis on three possible downtown sites. That was based on numerous factors, including store format, promotion, trade area and customer service.

“The key factor was the assumption that there be a level of store management that is knowledgeable and experienced, with a significant amount of market and marketing savvy,” said Reynolds.

GRASSROOTS

The study was funded by a $20,000 State Quality Communities Grant submitted by the Town of Ticonderoga.

The reason such co-ops take several years to get running is because they’re essentially a volunteer effort, Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Debra Malaney said.

“The starting time is due to the fact that co-ops are a true grassroots effort, they are community-based, and they depend on individuals to be the organizers and planners.”

What they need to do now is educate those who are interested on how a co-op is set up, Reynolds said.

“The idea is for everyone to meet and to learn about cooperatives and how they function in a community. This would be a grassroots effort like no other, and we need energetic individuals who are passionate about access to fresh, local, organic and healthy food.

“We are planning to invite the general manager from the Middlebury Natural Foods Cooperative to talk with us about his start-up experience.”

HUNDREDS NEEDED

A food co-op in an area like Ticonderoga would take about 600 subscribers to support its operation. At some point, they’ll be signing people up, Reynolds said.

Reynolds said they’ve been talking with SUNY Plattsburgh Assistant Professor Curt Gervich about having his class in environmental management go to Ticonderoga to do further research into the feasibility or alternatives to a co-op food store.

Email Lohr McKinstry:

lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com