Our Impact

What You Will Do By Joining, Investing, and Shopping at
Columbus Food Co-op

1. You will keep dollars in our economy

For every $100 you spend at the Coop Grocery, $68 will stay in the community. What happens when you spend that same $100 at a national chain? Only $43 stays in the community.

2. You will embrace what makes Columbus unique

Columbus is known for our architecture and being “different by design.” Our community-built Co-op will reflect the uniqueness of our city, our producers, and our agriculture in and around it.

3. You will help create local jobs

Local businesses are better at creating higher-paying jobs for our neighbors, and the Food Co-op will pay significantly higher than minimum wage. We are positioned to hire 20-25 employees in year 1 and increase to 45 by year 5.

4. You will help the environment

Buying from the Food Co-op conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation, less packaging, and products that you know are safe and well made, because we stand behind them.   Co-op groceries carry up 10 times or more local products than chain groceries. We expect to sell $560,000 of local produce in year 1 and increase to $1,000,000 in year 5. Local growers & producers are excited to grow for the Co-op and expand their productions to meet increasing local demand.

5. You will nurture your community

We know you, and you know us. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the coop_betterfood.jpgrate of chains. Co-op Principle #7 is “Concern for Community.” Co-ops typically spend 13% of their income on local charities where conventional chains devote 4%.

6. You will conserve your tax dollars

Shopping in a local business means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money available to beautify our community.  Also, spending locally ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong—right here in your community!

7. You will help create the Co-op Grocery

As an owner/member you have a voice in all aspects of the Co-op Grocery. We will pick the items we sell based on what we know you like and want.  We will carry a wider array of unique products because we buy for our own individual market. 

8. You will take advantage of our expertise

You are our friends and neighbors, and we have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. We’re passionate about what we do.  83% of Food Co-ops offer classes on healthy eating, nutrition, and anything else the membership wants. We’re committed to providing education resources and classes with other local experts to foster a healthier, happier community.

9. You will invest in entrepreneurship

Creativity and entrepreneurship are what the American economy is founded upon. Nurturing local business ensures a strong community.

10. You will make us a destination

The more interesting and unique we are as a community, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests. This benefits everyone! Communities with Co-ops demonstrate strong values and pride in the people and local growers and producers. 


How are Co-ops Different?

Click HERE to read the latest newsletter! 

There are many ways Co-ops are different than conventional grocery stores. Check out this 2 minute video from Portland Food Co-op in Maine, which highlights why Co-ops are good for everyone and gives you a glimpse into how we can have a positive impact here in Columbus. 


Open House, FOOD FIGHT, & More!

Click HERE to read the lasted update!

Will YOU help make this beautiful picture a reality? 



Message from Board President, Kevin McCracken

You can help make the Columbus Food Co-op grocery a reality. We invite you to become a member-owner, to become an investor, and to become a part of the shared vision as we build the Columbus Food Co-op.

A co-op is what happens when people pool their resources in support of a shared vision and they create something that none could create individually. 

More than 150 million Americans belong to one or more of the 30,000 cooperatives that operate in the United States. Rural America was electrified by Rural Electric Membership Cooperatives (REMCs). Indeed 40% of this country’s electric grid is cooperatively owned. Our homes, our automobiles, and our industries are financed by financial cooperatives (a.k.a. credit unions). Our agricultural economy is built upon the foundation of both farm service co-ops and farm production co-ops. Our economy also includes several retail cooperatives like R.E.I., Ace Hardware, Best Western, and NAPA automotive parts stores.

Locally, our shared vision is to create a cooperatively-owned, full-service, natural food grocery in Columbus, Indiana. In support of that vision, we now have more than 750 owner/members who have already invested in the Columbus Food Co-op. 

We are now in the process of implementing that vision. To do this requires capital; therefore we have launched a member-loan drive to provide our owner-members an opportunity to invest in the co-op: an opportunity to increase the likelihood of success. We would love for you to be part of it. 

This is how a business starts. We have the site, we have the plans, we have the commercial financing, and we have many other processes in place--or in development—that will allow us to make the vision real. All we need is for our business partners—our owner/members—to invest in THEIR business.

Skepticism is an investor’s best friend. As early investors of time and treasure, the Columbus Food Co-op board wanted data evaluating the viability of the business. The board turned to Cooperative Development Services (CDS), an unparalleled national leader in supporting the establishment and growth of food co-ops in the US.

CDS began supporting co-ops more than 25 years ago and has a proven success rate of opening 95% of the more than 250 co-ops they have worked with. CDS consultants have spent many hours advising and educating our board and our project manager.

Over the past four years, the co-op has done its due diligence and commissioned four market studies which evaluated six different sites across our community. An additional six sites were evaluated informally, to determine if further study was required. 

Each market study evaluated facility and site characteristics along with numerous population demographic descriptors, including age, race, per-capita income, and educational attainment. These metrics were then compared to similar communities across the US using a substantial normative database (more on that later).

The market study for the 1750 25th Street site was unquestionably the strongest with first-year sales forecast to be $3.4M in the first year of operation. Sales per square foot were 30% to 70% higher than any other studied. Indeed, two CDS consultants and the general manager of Bloomingfoods each referred to our site as a “home run” and the site most likely to lead to success. Historically, two grocery stores were successful in that location and each outgrew the site.

The normative database used by CDS includes sensitive financial information from hundreds of co-ops across the nation. Cooperatives generally operate according to the same core principles. One of those principles is “cooperation among co-ops.” This is what drives co-ops to share sensitive financial information. CDS then aggregates the data and uses it to help other co-ops.

This degree of information sharing is unique among co-ops. And yet, it is easy to see how this creates a valuable resource for co-ops like ours. Our revenue forecasts, growth rates, and itemized expenses are not just SWAGS or anecdotal projections. Instead, they are data-driven benchmarks resulting from high-quality inputs. All of our key indicators are benchmarked and are comparable to co-op grocery industry standards.

A critical review of the market study and highly comprehensive pro forma statements leads one to conclude that our community can easily support a full-service, cooperatively-owned natural foods grocery. By working closely with CDS and Bloomingfoods, we have the closest thing to a co-op grocery franchise that one can get.

Our strong relationships with both CDS and Bloomingfoods will serve us well during implementation. We have management and financial services support proposals from Bloomingfoods to assist our future general manager. We are currently conducting a national search for that position.

We are very well positioned for success. We have the vision, we have the systems, and we have the talent (and are recruiting more). The final essential element is accumulating capital. We are making progress and I fully expect we will reach our target.

Together, we are better. And together, when we pool our resources, we can create our shared vision. Together, we can create that shared vision: a cooperative grocery that will serve our community.


Capital Campaign & Next Steps

To secure our bank financing, fully take control of our site and move ahead with renovations to build our store, we need to ColumbusCoOpcarrot-o-meter_100k.pngraise $750,000 in member loans and investments by May 15! The good news is we are already over 15% of the way to that goal - commitments to date total $118,000 raised since late January. We need your help now to raise the remaining $632,000 by May 15.

Read more HERE. 




Portland Food Co-op

There are so many wonderful videos from across the nation about the impact food co-ops have on communities. Here's one that in just two and a half minutes shows what makes a co-op unique and viable -- (spoiler: it's YOU!)



Site Announcement!

Your Food Co-op location is...

Annual Meeting Wrap-up

Thank you to all the Member-owners who spent Friday evening celebrating the announcement of our food co-op site! There was such energy and warmth inside City Hall. We shared the 2013-2014 financial report, outreach, site announcement, success stories of co-ops across the country, and next steps. This is such an exciting time for member-owners, our board & volunteers, and the community.  

Not a Member? 

The strength and commitment of our community is apparent in the large and growing number of people who have already taken the step to become member-owners even before we had a permanent location! If you've been waiting to join, NOW is the time! 

The Work Ahead

While securing the site is a huge milestone, there's is still plenty of work to be done! It will not happen without the dedication of our members and success of our capital campaign.  Details and timelines regarding the capital campaign will be coming out over the next few weeks. 

What You Can Do Right Now

Join if you haven't!
- Host a house party! We all know folks who haven't joined yet. Let's get together, share our stories, and encourage others to become part of making Columbus stronger. 
- Purchase a gift membership. 
- Consider a loan to the co-op & attend an upcoming info session to learn more. 
- Volunteer! We're looking for fundraisers, grant writers, and anyone who help at future events. 
- Help us share the co-op story! We welcome any opportunity to speak to groups or organizations about the co-op and our mission. 
-Share this newsletter and/or Facebook posts with friends :-) 

Again, thanks to all the Member-owners who attended the Annual Meeting and to all the volunteers who provided food! 




Our Mission: Columbus Food Co-op will serve and strengthen the community by providing wholesome foods and products while practicing and encouraging sustainability. 

Your Board of Directors
Kevin McCracken, President
Mike Johnston, Treasurer
Christopher Clerc
Dan Fleming
Sarah Grey
David Kadlec
Shirley Trapp

SaraBeth Drybread, Project Manager 


Happy Birthday, Common Ground Co-op!

There's no denying the positive impact food co-ops have on local growers and consumers. This short video celebrates the 40th birthday of Common Ground Food Co-op by highlighting these relationships. Take a look and if you're not a member please consider investing in Columbus Food Co-op to help us succeed as Common Ground has. Thanks!



2014 Board of Directors Election

Below are the three candidates for the 2014 election. Member-owners, please vote at the Annual Meeting on Friday, Nov. 21 at City Hall, 6:00pm. You may also vote electronically and an email had been sent to you. Deadline is Sunday, November 30 at midnight. 
Mail your ballot to:



 Lorraine Low
 c/o Heritage Fund
 PO Box 1547, Columbus, IN 47202 

Thanks to The Heritage Fund for handling the ballots again this year. 

Terry Whitaker


Why did you become a member of the Columbus Co-op and why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors?

Coops are much more than a shopping place; they bring together a community of like minded individuals, promote local, sustainable food sources and healthy living. I have always tried to be of service when asked by organizations which share my values.

Please share any personal, professional or volunteer affiliations that will help your service on the Board.

I have served on the Visitors Center Board, Arts District Coalition, Library Associates and on and off for 14 years on the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association Board. I am the head of the Downtown Columbus Merchants Group.

What specific talents, skills, expertise, and experience do you believe you can share with the Co-op?

Although my retail experience is not related to food, I hope that I can be of help in those areas that are common to most retail operations.


Jan Lucas-Grimm


Why did you become a member of the Columbus Co-op and why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors?

I believe in the cooperative model, first of all, and especially when it comes to our food. I want to be involved in the choosing of sources and vendors and I love the possibilities fo what a food co-op can provide for a community.

Please share any personal, professional or volunteer affiliations that will help your service on the Board.

I think my affiliation with the Unitarian Universalist community will be a good connection, as well as my network of followers of Tim's and my music. Through Americana Music series as well as our own level of touring, we have access to a wide audience and have a certain level of recognition that could be beneficial ot the co-op.

What specific talents, skills, expertise, and experience do you believe you can share with the Co-op?

I ran a restaurant in chicago for ten years an I am experienced in food selection and preparation.
Also my experiences as an actor and performing musician can be valuable in outreach for the co-op, in promoting it and educating the community about it.

Feel free to share anything else you think would be valuable for the membership to know about you.

I am passionate about good and healthy food.
I am passionate about spreading the word about good and healthy food.
I am at a point in my life where I want to devote myself to a cause and the co-op is my first choice!
It is important to recognize that I do travel a lot, at least 4-6 weeks every year in Europe.

Looking forward to being a part of this awesome new chapter for Columbus!!

Christopher Clerc

I was born and raised in Columbus, where I’ve returned to practice law starting in June 2013.  Roughly half of my law practice focuses on defending people who cannot afford to hire their own attorney, as a public defender for the Circuit Court.  The rest of my practice is extremely varied, and I enjoy having a general practice rather than specializing on any single area.  I play the Tuba in the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.  I’m excited about the prospect of serving on the Co-op board, if I’m chosen.  I thoroughly enjoyed the farmers’ market last summer, and I hope to help establish a year-round store.

Current BOD
Kevin McCracken, President
Mike Johnston, Treasurer
Christopher Clerc
Dan Fleming
Sarah Grey
David Kadlec
Shirley Trapp


November Newsletter -- Site update, Annual Meeting, & Turkeys!

Click HERE to read the November Newsletter. Things are happening, Columbus!


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