Wondering what’s happening with the Co-op?
The short version:
1. Co-op sales have declined
2. Determining next steps
3. Change in format is best chance for success
4. What we are doing to move forward
5. How you can help
Read on for the whole scoop.
For nearly a decade, you have supported YRGC with your steadfast patronage, monetary contributions, spare time and talent, and general encouragement. Many of you, past and present, have been extraordinarily generous with your support. So much effort has been put in to create and strengthen this inclusive, socially responsible business--the crazy idea sprouted by a few Stoughton residents ten years ago to germinate into the community asset it is today. Your interest and concern about the future of the store is no surprise, then; it's clearly evident in the most frequently asked question we hear, "What's happening with the Coop?"
AT A CROSSROADS
Beginning in the last quarter of 2015, YRGC has seen a gradual decline in revenues that, for the time being, has leveled off to an average of $5,000/month below expected sales. We have scaled down as many expenses as practical and have refocused on the categories and products that remain strong sellers. With all credit to the amazing staff—Cal, Dawn, Glen, Heather, John, Nick, Randi, Seth and Zack—the store continues to run smoothly given stressful and challenging constraints.
We’ve adapted, but are operating in a holding pattern, determining how to best move forward. Since the Annual Meeting in March, we’ve been working very hard to keep the business stabilized on one hand, while envisioning the future on the other.
So where do we go from here? If we take no action, we may somehow manage to maintain sales at their current level, a decidedly unsustainable strategy; the Co-op will just continue to tread water, still lacking sufficient resources to reinvest in the business. Or, sales may drop even further, which will definitively lead to closing the doors. And that would be no small blow to Stoughton, losing this independently-owned business (by over 1200 of you!) that adds so much value to the community and offers the potential to serve it infinitely better.
There is another, proactive option, a business concept that combines the most successful features of our existing grocery store with a greatly expanded prepared foods and made-to-order section. In broad strokes, a proposed “market café” would include:
A tighter grocery format—including bulk, dairy, meat, produce, beer and wine, etc.—stocked with products from local and regional producers, items not found elsewhere in town, and those specifically requested by owners.
Prepared foods expansion including a full-service coffee and juice bar, a greater selection of ready-to-eat salads, sandwiches, and baked goods, a simple, made-to-order menu, plus the daily soup and salad bar.
A more inviting space with increased seating, Wi-Fi, warmer lighting, and a consistent, comfortable temperature; a “third place” that encourages community and conversation.
To pursue this plan of action will require much (more) hard work, continued customer support, and significant funding, but it presents the most viable opportunity for the Co-op to succeed by meeting the changing needs of downtown Stoughton.
Compared to when YRGC opened in 2008:
Stoughton’s grocery needs are now amply met by the powerhouse retailers concentrated on the west side of town.
Main Street is experiencing an ongoing revitalization within the city’s Arts and Entertainment District with a visible increase in foot traffic.
Prepared, ready-to-eat foods have become the fastest-growing segment of the grocery industry.
Above all others, these three changes have significantly impacted YRGC in ways negative and positive.
Customers shop elsewhere for greater variety and discounted pricing.
YRGC is located in the very heart of downtown’s dynamic activity.
Over the last year, and with very little investment, we have grown our prepared food sales from an average of 5% of total monthly sales to upwards of 11%.
We have witnessed firsthand the increasing numbers of customers looking for more ready-to-eat options. From locals wanting to pick up a quick lunch to visitors in town for a show at the Opera House, there is a growing demand for healthful and convenient foods that accommodate a diversity of dietary preferences.
YRGC is especially well-positioned to meet this demand and to remain the primary bridge between customers and local producers in Stoughton. We have the basic infrastructure in place, established connections with producers, a premium location, and a loyal customer base upon which to build. One of the next steps forward is developing a fully articulated business plan.
This business plan, once completed, will clarify our strategy in detail and how we plan to execute it. Putting it together is a major project in and of itself: gathering data through research and talking with other businesses and consultants; refining the plan based on compiled data; projecting detailed financial forecasts; and, identifying the biggest obstacles we’re likely to face. The business plan will be instrumental for the Co-op to secure necessary financing.
HOW YOU CAN HELP Your continued support is the single most important factor that will enable us to move forward with the plan. Thanks to all of you who shop here regularly, you keep the Co-op going and we appreciate you! If you haven’t visited the store in a while, you’re invited to stop in and see what’s new. We guarantee you’ll find something that’s not available anywhere else in town. And if it’s not on our shelves and available through our vendors, we’ll special order it.
Besides shopping, if you’d like to take a more active role in the Co-op we have volunteer opportunities available on a one-time or ongoing basis. If you have a few hours a month to spare and skills or expertise to share, there are ways to directly help out in the store or participate in the reinvention of YRGC.
Stay connected for Co-op updates. If you haven’t already, subscribe to the bi-weekly newsletter. Visit our website. Like us on Facebook. We welcome and want your feedback! Submit your ideas and questions, and we will post responses online and in the store. Your input and engagement is a crucial measure to validate the Co-op’s moving forward.
Thank you. Keep shopping, keep talking, and we’ll keep fighting the good fight.
It's Turkey Time!
Thanksgiving turkey pre-order is open! Sign up in the store or give us a call to reserve a holiday bird or two.
Daiya Dairy Free Cheddar Style Slices, 7.8 oz
Stretch Island Fruit Bites, 5 ct; Blueberry and Strawberry
Funny Farm Goat Cheese Popcorn, 3 oz; White Cheddar and White Cheddar Jalapeno
Funny Farm Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese, 5.5 oz; Goat Cheddar Cheese with Shapes, Goat White Cheddar, and Goat White Cheddar Jalapeno
Peeled Organic Pea Puffs, 4 oz; Butter & Sea Salt, Aged Parmesan, and Nacho
Sales for everyone through October,
while supplies last.
SoDelicious Non-Dairy Coconut Milk Yogurt 5.3 oz
various flavors $1.99 (Reg. $2.49)
Barbara's Cheese Puffs
$2.29 (Reg. $2.99)
Organic Puffs 4 oz, various flavors
$3.49 (Reg. $4.39)
32 oz, various types
$3.79 (Reg. $4.99)
Ecos Laundry Liquids 100 oz
$10.99 (Reg. $14.69)
various flavors & sizes
$1.19 (Reg. $1.89)
Tasty Bite Entrees
10 oz, various types
$2.99 (Reg. $3.69)
These items are on sale during October for Co-op owners only. Please show your owner card or provide your owner number to the cashier.
Organic Fruit Spread
10 oz, various types
$3.49 (Reg: $4.69)
Brown Rice Pastas
various types & sizes
$3.29 (Reg. $4.49)
various types & sizes
These specials from local favorite Just Coffee are on sale during October for all shoppers, while supplies last. Just Coffee is a fair trade roaster.
dark roast blend
$12.49 (Reg: $12.99)
$10.49 (Reg: $10.99)
Community Fun Night
Oct 3, 4 - 7 pm Location: City Hall/Fire Department Parking Lot, 401 E. Main Street. There will be goody bags for the first 400 attendees including coupons for free items & discounted items. Prize drawings will be held throughout the evening! Grand Prize drawing at 6:55 PM.Cotton Candy, Water, Sno-cones, Hot dogs, Soda and Popcorn. Fun! Games & Events!! Bounce House, Bucket Truck Rides, Fire Dept. Ladder Trucks, See Police Dog Ole in action, Blood Pressure Checks, Check out an Ambulance. Meet City Staff and learn more about The City of Stoughton!All Free!
Three Gaits Fall Celebration
Oct 7, 1 - 5 pm Location: 3741 Highway 138 W, Stoughton We invite you to join us on our 20 acre farm in Stoughton Wisconsin for our Fall fundraising celebration. The afternoon will include live music from local artists Mal-O-Dua and The Cajun Strangers, local food carts from the Lets Eat Out! food cart coalition, a silent auction, raffle, live horse demonstration and other festive family activities.The event will raise funds to allow Three Gaits to provide and facilitate the life-changing equine-assisted activities that make our programs so unique. Specifically, the funds raised will help to support and sustain our programs, student scholarships, facilities and of course, our horses.
Yahara River Grocery Cooperative is your community grocery store, focusing on local, all-natural and organic foods but also offering a range of conventional grocery items. We thank you for your continued support of the Co-op and value your input. Please feel free to send us your comments. Haven't stopped by the Co-op in awhile? Come on in and try our grab'n go items, local beers, fresh meats, cheeses...and so much more!