Friends and Farmers Cooperative grocery store getting close to becoming reality

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 12/12, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Attendees found good food and drink at Tuesday's Friends and Farmers Cooperative Meet and Greet

This past Tuesday night, the Friends and Farmers Cooperative held a Meet and Greet at Whiskers in the Nittany Lion Inn. The event featured some local food created by Andrew Monk, who is the executive chef of the Nittany Lion Inn and big supporter of both local food and the Co-op. The event also was a way to inform the community about the progress the Co-op has been making, including the building of a Co-op grocery store.

The food at the event was a fantastic example of what sort of great things can happen with local food in the skill hands of a master chef. Kale salad, local beef burgers, and stew made with local goat meat highlighted the food offerings, while cocktail enthusiasts enjoyed a concoction featuring beet juice (no, really, it was good) and gin.

As for the Co-op, a lot of effort is being put into getting the grocery store in place and operating. “It takes a lot of work to get a community-owned and operated store up and running,” Sarah Potter, board president of the Co-op, said. “It’s an amazing thing that it is being created by all of us—teachers, farmers, realtors, lawyers, students, stay-at-home moms, writers, retired professionals, etc.”

“In the midst of our day-to-day lives, we are taking the time to see this vision become a reality,” Potter added. “Our dreaming stage is nearing an end and we need research, invested members and capital to get us into a storefront.”

Potter said the feasibility study was recently completed. The study was conducted by Keystone Development Center and it looked at the economic and social sustainability of the cooperative.

“It goes into detail on sales projections and even breaks down what the first five years of our financial operation might look like,” Potter said. “It discusses the challenges of sourcing items locally, which is a top priority of the co-op. Acknowledging the success of the group so far and looking at the final numbers, we are feasible. These projections are very helpful as we move forward.”

There was also a marketing study conducted and there are a few actual sites for the store under review. Potter said they are reviewing such aspects as competition, demographics, and patterns of sales for the store location. “After these analyses, we are able to make the best decision as to where to locate the Cooperative store, which is the most exciting news for our members,” she said. “We will use this report to move forward in obtaining capital through membership donations, bank loans, grants and other sources. Marketing studies are not cheap though, and we are working to raise these funds over the next months so that we can get this work underway.”

A membership drive for the Co-op will begin March 1, 2014. For more information on the Co-op, and to get the latest news and updates on progress via their blog, please go to the Friends and Farmer Cooperative website.

{name} Author: Jamie Oberdick

Bio: Editor, Local Food Journey | Passionate about supporting local food in Central PA

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