Buying clubs are sometimes just buying clubs. Groups of friends or neighbors who order food in bulk to save some money. But some, and more and more, are growing and using the buying club to eventually open a community store. I’m happy to present two of our clients that have made it to that point.
BuyingClubSoftware.com was created from our own experience with the Portland Food Co-op. In the early days we used spreadsheets and both Matt and I were doing splits with just a few other folks. That was about 7 years ago. And as of this past year they found a great retail space, with parking (which is huge in this town!), and began their final push to raise funds to open the store in the fall of 2014. We’ve literally seen our membership grow from about 500 to 900 in the last few months, so they’ve done an amazing job growing the community support needed to open the store and truly be owned by the community. We are proud to have been a part of that success.
Another club is the Kennebeck Local Food Initiative (KFLI) in Gardiner, ME, and they will change the name to The Gardiner Food Co-op. The plan to open a grocery and cafe in an area that doesn’t have anything like it. Here’s their words from the latest email we received…
For two years, the Kennebec Local Food Initiative (KLFI) has been providing you with access to hundreds of products grown and produced right here in Maine through the Online Marketplace (OM). Your twice-monthly purchases have helped support the livelihoods of nearly twenty local farmers and producers and close to two hundred more across the state. The OM has topped $80,000 in sales which means you have helped keep $240,000 circulating in the Maine economy.
As many of you know, a permanent storefront has been the stated goal of KLFI since day one. In addition to growing the local edible economy, we’ve also wanted to make a social impact in the greater Gardiner area. Less than a year ago, the current board of KLFI voted to adopt the cooperative model for the future storefront and committed to take the necessary steps in order to open the doors.
Congratulations to these Maine buying clubs! For persevering through hard times of beginning a buying club. For the work to bring fresh local food to more people. For creating economic success. And for letting us help to make it happen.
Know of a buying club that has become a store? Share your story!