Q: Do you have to live in Columbia, SC to become a member of the food cooperative?
No. There is no residency requirement.
Q: How often do you have to pay $150?
The initial $150 investment to become a member is only paid once. However, members may be asked for additional investments if the cooperative/grocery store needs additional cash. Such asks are rare, but possible. Additionally, members may have the opportunity to make additional investments in the form of preferred stock or loans, however this will be totally voluntary. Most importantly, whether a member invests $150 or $15,000, each member is only entitled to ONE vote.
Q: When can I expect my first dividends from my $150 investment in the food cooperative?
The primary purpose for any cooperative is to address a community or social need. However, in order to be effective, the cooperative must be sustainable. In order to pay any patronage dividends, the grocery store will have to also be profitable. It is very typical for food cooperatives, like many start ups, to go several years before they are profitable enough to be able to pay any dividends.
Q: Is the Membership investment tax deductible?
No. The food cooperative is a for profit entity. Therefore, your membership investment cannot be written off as a charitable contribution to a 501(c)(3).
Q: What will be done with the profits from the grocery store?
The members, via the board of directors, will determine what will be done with the profits. However, these decisions will be based on the goals of the food cooperative, especially re-investing in the store, its employees and the surrounding community. There may also be an option for patronage dividends for the members based on how much they spend in the grocery store.
Q: Is the grocery store already open? If not, when will it be open.
No, the grocery store is not open yet. Current estimates show that the grocery store is scheduled to open in September of 2019.
Q: Where will the grocery store be located?
Currently, the preferred site for the grocery store is 3725 W. Beltline Blvd. The vacant property is located between Outing’s Barber Shop, 3701 West Beltline Blvd., and JD ByRider, 3815 West Beltline Blvd.
Q: Will the grocery store carry any type of special foods, like locally grown, organic, etc.
The board will determine what line of foods will be sold at the grocery store to ensure that it is financially sustainable.
Q: Will the City of Columbia own the grocery store?
No. The City of Columbia will not own the grocery store. The grocery store will be owned by the members of the City Foods Cooperative Marketplace. However, the City of Columbia has a vested interest in meeting the needs of this community. Therefore, both financial and technical assistance will be provided by the City to help this project be successful.
Q: Why should I become a member now?
The North Columbia area is facing a potential food dessert due to the closure of one of its long standing grocery stores in 2016. Many families must rely on dollar stores and convenient stores for their groceries due to transportation limitations and convenience. The food cooperative is a great opportunity for the surrounding community to be a part of the solution. Research has shown that corporate grocery store chains are not interested in locating in the area because they require high profit margins to satisfy their investors. Investing in the food cooperative now will help the community build a sustainable business in North Columbia that will also meet a community need.