Sandy Sterling

published Member Loan Pledges 2012-04-21 13:40:20 -0400

Member Loan Pledges

GOAL: $500,000.00

published Membership Form 2012-04-21 12:28:06 -0400

Membership Form

24 donors

To become a member of the Columbus Cooperative Grocery & Market, complete the form below. Once you've submitted your application you'll be redirected to PayPal to pay your one-time membership fee of $90.

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Thank you for your support! And don't forget to tell others that you can submit your application and pay online via PayPal!

published What's a Co-op? in Why join the co-op? 2012-04-21 11:51:29 -0400

What's a Co-op?

Co-ops (cooperatives) are member-owned and member-governed businesses that operate for the benefit of their members according to common principles agreed upon by the international cooperative community. In coops, members pool resources to bring about economic results that are unobtainable by one person alone.

Most grocery store cooperatives are consumer cooperatives, which means that they are owned by the people who shop at the stores. Members exercise their ownership by shopping in the store and voting in elections. The members elect a board of directors to hire, guide ,and evaluate the general manager who runs day to day operations.

While traveling down the aisles of your favorite grocery store, you most likely fill it with products from many cooperatives – Sunkist citrus, Blue Diamond Almonds, American Crystal Sugar, Riceland Rice, Cabot Cheese, Land O' Lakes products, and Welch's grape juice. From food, to housing, to childcare, to electricity, to credit unions, co-ops touch our lives every day. Take a look around you to see how many times your purchases benefit a cooperative.

Facts about Cooperatives

Click on the link above for a presentation given at the Indiana Cooperative Development Center Summit. 

Seven Cooperative Principles

1. Voluntary and Open Membership

2. Democratic Member Control

3. Member Economic ParticipationIMG_0652.jpg

4. Autonomy and Independence

5. Education, Training, & Information

6. Cooperative Among Cooperatives

7. Concern for Community

Co-ops by the Number

In the United States, there are more than 29,000 cooperatives with 120,000,000 memners. 

Cooperatives in the United States generate 2,000,000 jobs and make a substantial contribution to the economy of the United States with annual sales of $652,000,000,000 and assets of $3,000,000,000,000. 

Cooperatives are a major economic force in developed countries and a powerful business model in developing countries, employing approximately 100,000,000 people.  

There are millions of cooperatives, which are owned and governed by more than 1,000,000,000 members, operating in every nation of the world.  

The economic activity of the largest 300 cooperatives in the world is equal to that of the 10th largest national economy.  

Provided by the National Cooperative Business Association ---


published Invest 2012-04-21 11:13:06 -0400


"We are excited to support the Columbus Cooperative Grocery and Market with a member loan.  A food co-op has proved to promote health, well-being, and a community focus which are all great assets for Columbus!"  Steve and Cindy Chapman, Co-op Member-Owners
“I loaned to the Co-op because it will benefit my family and the community by increasing the availability of healthy, locally-grown, environmentally friendly food options.”  Steve, Co-op Member-Owner
"We loaned money to the Co-op because we wanted to support a centrally located community owned grocery store. We look forward to having an alternative source of locally grown and healthy food choices."  Mary and Mike Johnston, Co-op Member-Owners

Click HERE for a member-loan brochure, explaining terms, considerations, and conditions. 

Invest in the Co-op!

Now that we’ve secured a site, it is time to turn our attention to raising the capital needed to open the store. Any small business COLUMBUS_INFO_GRAPHIC_copy_copy.jpgrequires significant start up capital from its owners and a food co-op is no different. In the case of a co-op like us, part of the required start-up capital investment can be shared by the entire membership rather than by only a handful of people. This is the beauty and strength of a cooperative enterprise!

Member economic participation is an essential ingredient for a thriving co-op and the 3rd cooperative principle. There are 3 primary ways members contribute to a financially healthy food co-op:

1. Becoming a Member-Owner
Click HERE for a membership application. 
2. Making an additional investment: Though member loan financing is an essential component of our start-up project, making a member loan is not required to be a member. However, the more member-owners who participate in the member loan campaign (at whatever level they are able), the better the financial situation for the co-op. In addition to a traditional member-loan, Non-Patronage Certificates can also be made. 
3. Shopping at the co-op: Looking forward to this! Shopping at the co-op contributes to the co-op’s profitability, which provides capital to fund the on-going operations of the co-op.

Established food co-ops have used member loans to finance expansion or relocation projects, while start-ups turn to member loans as a part of their overall capitalization plan to get the co-op up and running for the first time.

Member loans offer the co-op an attractive form of debt: loans from member-owners can provide more flexible repayment terms and lower interest rates than a traditional bank. In addition, a bank will look to the co-op’s ability to raise member loans as an indication of the strength of member-owner support. Member loans are a critical ingredient in the cooperative’s mix of assembled capital and allow us to pursue bank financing. To a financial institution considering a traditional consumer loan to the co-op, member loans represent commitment and engagement by its members.

For you, the co-op member-owner, a loan to your co-op represents an investment in your local community and an opportunity for a return that cannot be measured in dollars and cents. As an investor, you will experience an increased sense of pride because you can literally watch your investment hard at work in the community. Your co-op is so much more than a grocery store: it’s committed to providing living wage jobs; offering cleaner, healthier food grown closer to home; becoming a hub where community members can shop and gather; providing education and welcoming all.

Will you join us?

How Will We Use the Funds?
Funds loaned to the co-op will be used to renovated, stock, and staff the grocery store at 1750 25th Street. 
The co-op will borrow from several sources. Lenders include member-owners, non-traditional lenders, and commercial lenders.
Funds will be used for construction, equipment purchases, professional fees, staff wages and benefits as we prepare for opening day.

Preliminary Store Design!


How to Invest? 

Contact us at or 812-343-3588. If you have questions, members from the Board of Directors or our member-loan committee are happy to meet with you.



Member Loan Committee
Kevin Altevogt
Jan Lucas Grimm
Janice Montgomery



 Success Stories: We're not alone

Co-ops are starting-up all over the country! The financial process to get the doors open is typically the same. Out of the total project cost, 50% comes from the member-owners (through loans and new member equity) and the other 50% comes from commercial lenders and others sources, such as grants. 

Check out two co-ops with member-owners stepping up and making it happen in their communities! 
East Aurora Food Co-op (New York):
Sugar Beet Co-op (Oak Park, IL):


published Home 2012-04-21 11:09:49 -0400

Owner Feature  - Meet some of the owners that are making the Co-op a reality. This month we feature Jennifer Hartwell and Ritch Mettert.

Hello! We are Jennifer Hartwell and Ritch Mettert and we are proud members of the Columbus Food Co-op. 

We joined the Columbus Food Co-op in 2012 after we relocated to Columbus in the summer of 2011. 

Jennifer is from North Vernon and Ritch is from Seymour. We met in 1994 and were married in 2001. 

We lived in Greenwood from 1998 to 2008 and then spent three years in Madison Wisconsin while

Jennifer was completing her pediatric residency. It was while we were in Madison that we began to

change our methods of consumerism. We started to make an effort to shop and eat locally

and began to realise the benefits of fresh foods over processed foods as we slowly eliminated fast food

from our diet. When we relocated back to Indiana we were looking to get involved in the community

and make connections with like-minded individuals. We have found both of those qualities in the 

Columbus Food Co-op. We especially look forward to being able to buy local, fresh meats, 

and produce, once the store is open.

Jennifer is a pediatrician at Columbus Pediatrics and Ritch is the head brewer for the Seymour

Brewing Company.

We enjoy travelling within the US to areas with nature trails, national monuments and

microbreweries. We have been supporters of the People's Trails as well and frequently use those 

to make our way around Columbus.

We hope that others will consider joining the co-op to help boost the health and wealth of our


Columbus Food Co-op Site Announced

COLUMBUS, INDIANA—Columbus Food Co-op held their Annual Meeting Wednesday

evening, April 26, at Columbus City Hall. During the meeting, Dan Fleming, a member of the

Co-op Board and Chairman of the Site Selection Committee announced that the Co-op has

signed a Letter of Intent to occupy an 8,400 square foot space at 1580 Central Avenue. The

Letter of Intent was signed this week between the Food Co-op directors and landlords John

Counceller and Andrew Counceller.

“This is a great location for the Columbus Food Co-op. It is centrally located on a busy city

street. It is easily accessible by public transportation. There’s diversity in the surrounding

businesses. A real plus for the Co-op is that the landlords are also Co-op owners. John and

Andrew Counceller will be outstanding partners as we work to open the Co-op grocery store,”

said Mike Johnston, Board Chair of Columbus Food Co-op.

Columbus Food Co-op is a community-owned food cooperative working to bring a full-service

grocery store that provides more local and wholesome foods and products to Columbus and the

surrounding area. While not everything in the store is sourced locally, first year sales of local

food and products are estimated at $500,000, jumping to $2 million by year 10 of operation. The

location on Central Avenue is 8,400 square ft., providing 6,000 square ft. of retail space. An

initial store layout and design is being developed. Detailed project plans are under

development. Construction is expected to begin in early 2018 and the store is expected to open

in late 2018.

In addition to the store location, the Co-op announced three new staff additions:

Katie Novak, the Outreach Coordinator for Green Top Grocery in Bloomington, Illinois will act as

an advisor to the Owner Loan Campaign. Katie led Green Top’s successful Owner Loan

Campaign, which raised $1.5 million from their Owners and community partners.

April Williams of Columbus will join the team on May 1 as Owner Loan Campaign Coordinator.

April is a marketing and communications professional with a successful track record in

numerous Columbus initiatives. She has assisted multiple nonprofits in reaching their

development goals and most recently, as Development Director for the Columbus Park

Foundation, led capital projects including Race2play Park Improvements, People Trail

Expansion, Hamilton Ice Arena Renovation, and Columbike Bikeshare Program, raising over $4

million in community assets for the City of Columbus.

Anita Doyle has joined the team as Outreach Coordinator, a role previously held by SaraBeth

Drybread. Anita was born in Nuneaton, England and grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

She has experience in local economic development and business development. Among her

responsibilities, Anita will lead the Co-op’s Owner Growth initiatives, helping us reach our goal

of 1500 Owners by the time the store is opened in 2018.

For more information about our Columbus Food Co-op, how to join, or general questions, browse or find us on Facebook.


Where can I find my Co-op? 



What's happening? 

  • BIG NEWS: New site for the co-op was announced at the Annual Meeting on 4/26. 
  • The Hometown Food Guide is released! View the map & download the pdf directory of local farms in the Columbus area. 
  • Part of the path ahead is finding more and passionate volunteers. Do you care about the co-op like we do? Here is the volunteer form! We'd love to hear about what your interests and talents are. Everyone has special gifts they enjoy and it feels great when they are put to good use.  

About Columbus Food Co-op

We are a start-up working to bring a food cooperative to Columbus, Indiana! 
Mission: The Columbus Food Co-op will serve and strengthen the community by providing wholesome foods and products while practicing and encouraging sustainability.

Learn more:

Food Co-ops are on the Rise

"There is a growing thirst among consumers to vote with their dollar and to buy from places where business is being done fairly..." 

A Food Co-op in Your Community

A great 10 minute video to learn about the true difference and value in a food co-op.


published Why join the co-op? 2012-04-21 11:04:41 -0400


Columbus Food Co-op is modeled on Bloomingfoods in most ways including its membership program. For a one-time $90 member-share, you help create this wonderful cooperative grocery in Columbus, Indiana! Join the effort to connect our community and surrounding ones with healthy choices, locally grown produce, and natural and organic products unavailable in most other groceries in Columbus.

Recognizing that $90 is not necessarily readily available for many of us at one time, we have arranged for members to make the payments in three installments. The time limit for payments is one year. We look forward to assisting anyone who would like to make an arrangement. You may simply indicate this on your membership application.

The cooperative is a not-for-profit that will promote community support in a way that no other grocery store or market does! Examples include: support for the arts, local not-for-profits, healthy communities agenda, education about nutrition and health choices, potential cooking classes using seasonal produce and locally grown produce and meats, support of local growers, vendors and suppliers.

Print Member Application Here


Why Join Now?

Every successful co-op starts with committed member/owners. Your membership will empower us to secure our business plan with local financial institutions and investors and with making a site location commitment. We currently have 876 member-owners! ISphoto.jpg

  • What are Member/Owner Benefits?
  • Member Discount Days
  • Member Appreciation Days
  • Community Partner Discounts
  • Pre-Order Discounts
  • Possible Community Grants
  • Monthly Natural Foods Newsletter
  • Patronage Refund
  • Co-op Governance

Terms and Conditions of Membership

  • I agree that only persons living in my household will use this membership.
  • I certify that I am at least 18 years of age.
  • I understand that the “Legal Member of Record” is the person to whom all official co-op mailings are addressed, who is the official voting member in all co-op elections, and who receives any and all monies potentially disbursed, including patronage rebates and a refund of equity.
  • I understand that full rights of membership are granted upon full payment. Payment is to be completed within one year of the date below. If payment is not complete by then, all monies paid toward the purchase may be refunded, minus a $25 service charge.
  • If I do not make a purchase for three or more years, and if I do not request a refund of my membership equity, and if I do not provide the cooperative with my current address for three consecutive years, my membership may be canceled and my membership equity donated to Columbus Food Co-op (CFC).
  • I understand that this application for membership is subject to the approval of the Board of Directors of the CFC.

Bylaws of the Columbus Cooperative Market

Support from the West Coast

The following is a letter that one of members, from Eugene, Oregon, wrote to her friends to encourage them to support our initative here in Columbus.  Several of Lucy's friends responded and put their money together to purchase a "Friends of the Indiana Farm" membership.  Thanks to Lucy and friends for encouragment from across the country! 

Dear friends,
     Most of you are aware of my efforts towards supporting nature at my farm in Indiana.  Eventually I would hope organic and sustainable farming could come to this part of our Earth including my little farm.  Some of you have expressed the wish to help me in this project.  I thank you for your offer, and wonder if others are interested.
    Many initiatives are needed to support sustainable farming and preservation of nature in this particular place:  public awareness of its importance, local markets for organic produce, local organic feed for animals, and local organic soil amendments.  We are so accustomed to the markets and information available to us on the West Coast that we may not realize the need in other places.
    At this point I feel that my farm/nature/heartland efforts can best be supported by reaching out to an initiative for a Co-op in the nearby town of Columbus.  The brave souls in this initiative are bringing public awareness of the harm caused by industrial farming and of alternatives to industrial farming.  They are establishing a local organic market in Columbus which will be an outlet for organic farmers, and provide good food to local people.
    GMO crops, residual herbicides, chemical fertilizers are the norm here.  At present I am aware of only 2 organic efforts in 4 counties.  I’ve attached a recent newsletter from the Co-op.  You could contribute to them directly (membership is $90,) or I could combine several small contributions into a group membership from the West Coast/ North West.  I love the idea of the West Coasters / North Westerners supporting brothers and sisters working for the renewal of the Heartland.
    Please let me know if this idea sparks your interest too.