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Ambler Food Co-op Now Accepting Pledges

The Ambler Food Co-op is excited to be accepting pledges! This is a very exciting step in making your community marketplace a reality.

The Ambler Food Co-op is excited to be accepting pledges! This is a very exciting step in making your community marketplace a reality. This market will provide high-quality local food and grocery items to Ambler and its surrounding community residents.

Today all we are asking for is your commitment to become a Co-op member.  Once the Co-op is incorporated and we gather 400 membership pledges, you will be asked to make a payment toward your member equity—your financial “share” in a co-op that you own and you can help operate!

Member equity with Ambler Food Co-op—in addition to loans, grants and donations—will provide the start-up capital needed to move toward opening your cooperatively-owned marketplace.

You can pledge using the form found here or by filling out the form included with this post and mailing it to Ambler Food Co-op, P.O. Box 233, Ambler PA 19002.

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions regarding the pledge drive:

Why not collect my membership equity contribution now?
Before we take your money we need to accomplish a few important goals: (1) we need to file for incorporation, which we will do in the coming months; (2) we need to ensure we have the systems in place to safely and securely accept and track everybody’s contribution; (3) we need to make sure that there is enough commitment in the community make the Co-op a reality to warrant taking your contribution. We have dozens of dedicated volunteers working towards fulfilling these goals. When we are ready to collect your pledge, we will be in touch with you!

How long until a co-op marketplace is opened in Ambler?
“It depends!” With a co-op run by us, the Co-op members, we will need to raise the money ourselves! Membership equity contributions will provide some of the capital needed to open a store, in addition to loans and grants. The faster we raise the money, the sooner we open. Of course along the way we will have to find a great location, hire a general manager and fulfill a number of other critical steps—so get involved! There is a lot to do!

How does membership equity work?
Membership equity is your capital investment in the Co-op. Whereas other types of businesses acquire capital from private investors or by selling shares on the open market, the Co-op relies on its membership for the money used to open a store, purchase inventory and run the business. Should you choose to withdraw your support for the Co-op at any time, our co-op bylaws will lay out the details of taking your membership equity with you. Our membership equity is set at $400, which is similar to other area co-ops. While we will encourage everybody to pay their equity in full, so that we have the capital to open a store sooner rather than later, there will be payment plans available. The minimum equity payment is $40.

Will I have to be a member to shop at the Co-op? What benefits do I get by becoming a member?
Without memberships we will not be able to open a cooperative marketplace in Ambler. We need a strong core of support to start a retail grocery store that is owned by and operated for the benefit of the community. One person cannot open a co-op for $400, but 1,000 people can! While our store will be open to all, members will receive special discounts; but, more importantly, they will know that it is their store that they helped to create, and that they can help operate!

How is the Co-op being organized?
At this point the Co-op is run entirely by volunteers. There are all kinds of volunteers in our organization: some who are committee members and meet regularly, some who volunteer for events or other discrete tasks, and some who work behind the scenes to move us ahead. We at Ambler Food Co-op have also been offered great help and advice from other co-ops in the area. There is a growing movement in southeastern Pennsylvania and nationally to run cooperative businesses because, as studies have shown, cooperatives bring more financial and social benefits to the community than privately run companies. Feel free to contact us to see what you can do to help us with this community effort! Have more questions about pledging your membership? Please see our What is a co-op? page for more answers!

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Alison February 12, 2013 at 01:49 AM
We are not yet at the point where we are ready to secure a building. We first need to raise money (loans, grants, donations and memberships). Opening the co-op is a few years away, but accepting pledges is the first step in the process.
andthatsthetruth February 12, 2013 at 02:18 AM
Few years away? Anyone can pledge and be dedicated today but how can you obligate them for a sincere pledge? Who told you to approach a fund raiser in this manner? They weren't too bright. People move out of the area, household situations change, Bottom Dollar will get in Ambler and you can't compete. Sorry Alison, your arrangement or proposal is going to be hard to sell. Thanks for the info.
Karen Palmer February 12, 2013 at 12:56 PM
A co-op is a wonderful idea for Ambler! Finally, a grocery store that will not leave AND act as a sort of community center! I love shopping at Weaver's Way and am looking forward to visiting CreekSide. I have pledged and look forward to this process unfolding in true democratic fashion. Bottom Dollar is owned by folks in Belgium who will never know how wonderfully fantastic Ambler is. Thank you Alison and all of the many volunteers who are working very hard to make this model for a marketplace available in Ambler!
Alison February 12, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Thank you for your comment, it gives us an opportunity to clear up any misconceptions. We are working with a consulting company and other area co-ops. People who pledge are not legally obligated . . . the purpose of the pledge drive is to gauge community interest. We already have hundreds of community members who have expressed an interest in having a marketplace owned by the community that will offer local, high-quality food and groceries. And, we have plenty of fundraisers coming up this spring and summer. Stay tuned for more information to come on those!
CuriousMe February 12, 2013 at 10:07 PM
How exciting! I was a member of a local food co-op when I lived in Oregon. They had the best selection of locally sourced foods, and even their organic products were pretty reasonably priced. It was also a sort of community center. They held classes on canning, candle making and even making your own cheese :) Ambler can only benefit from having a community owned grocery store!

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