May 2020 Newsletter

Chicago Market Newsletter - May 2020

Owner Meeting Recap

We've held two Owner Meetings via Zoom recently with a few goals. For one thing, we wanted to improve on our transparency with Owners and offer the chance for you all to hear and communicate directly with the Board. We'd rather be sharing a beer or coffee with you, but we're sure glad the online tool is there and working for us. If you ever feel like it's not right for you, remember you can email us or even schedule a time for a phone call. As Deborah writes:
"Thank you for creating this opportunity! I have been an owner for many years. I travel extensively for work and it is very rare that I am in town and available to attend a board meeting or any other event that takes place during the week and I know I am missing so much."
A second goal is to get our Owners reconnected and activated and we feel good about this start, but there's more to do on that and we'll be hosting other online gatherings and events soon to pull you all in and entice you.

A clear third goal is to start getting lean-in and suggestions from you on our Funding feasibility. We've had no solid leads from our calls on that front yet, so if you can help financially or know someone who can, be sure to speak up. It's our Co-op and we need to fund it together!

If you missed the calls and want to watch the recordings, they're both up here.

Proving Feasibility

As we announced recently, we are at a critical juncture where we need to quickly assess our feasibility in three areas and we are hard at work on that. Here are some updates in those three categories:

Funding feasibility
  • We have a team working hard to get a USDA grant submitted by May 26 for $100,000.
  • We are crafting a survey of Owners and non-Owners to learn more about our community's willingness and ability to lend and donate to make our Co-op happen - watch for that survey link soon!
  • We've attended over a dozen COVIDeo sessions with the national co-op community to learn learn from others, including how fundraising is going for them; three cheers to OshKosh who just succeeded in raising $1.6M from their Owner community to open their store!; we hear fundraising is challenging in the Covid environment, but not impossible because people see the value in supporting their local sources of food all the more right now.
  • We are reaching out to professional fundraisers to learn more about what working with them might look like (if that's your skill set, email us).
Operational feasibility
  • Negotiations with the CTA are ongoing and positive.
  • We are in talks with national co-op consultants to hire a team to run through a feasibility assessment with us. Due to Covid they are extremely busy right now. This work will help us determine how to correctly plan our store for success - what programs will do well, which are too expensive and low profit margin for us, how can we reduce construction costs, etc. To make this location work we all need to be ready to make some concessions in order to be successful. 
Organizational feasibility
  • We need you to run for the Board later this summer! Volunteer/attend Board meetings now and be ready to strengthen our Board by running.
  • We are excited by 46+ people joining our two Owner Meeting zoom calls and for some new volunteers (8 hand-raisers after our email call), but we truly need more Owner participation and support to make this happen. Meet Kate below and send her an email to get involved.
  • Owners came to us with ideas and we formed an exciting new team! Thanks to overlapping creative ideas from Lane, Steve, Ben and others, we're cooking up a plan to connect you with local food right now, so stay tuned.


Other News 

REMINDER: We launched our Shop Local directory recently and it's been a huge hit! Farmers report good response to it and we're always updating it, so keep shopping local through this resource! When you shop local you are showing your Concern for Community, getting delicious food, AND proving that a local, resilient food system is more important than ever!

And thanks to all the Owners who've sent us farms and local businesses to add. If you know someone who should be there, send us a note


Community Impact 

Like all co-ops, we value the Seven Cooperative Principles and Principle 7 ("P7") is Concern for the Community. So how is our community delivering on P7 right now?
  • Paper bags! Owner Kelly Hewitt volunteers at Ravenswood Community Services cooking meals and getting food delivered to people in need. She put the call out to Owners on Facebook that they need paper bags for food deliver and at least five Owners stepped up! It's an ongoing need, so if you have clean, brown paper grocery-sized bags, drop them off at the Wilson entrance door (1757 W. Wilson).
  • Shop Local! Our website's Shop Local pages have grown to support 19 farmers, 9 markets/grocers, 10 restaurants and 11 businesses (most owned by Chicago Market Owners just like you) and more.  

In the News


Upcoming Events


Meet New Volunteer Coordinator Kate Grimm

Hi Owners! I'm so excited to be a part of Chicago Market and am even more excited to start in my new role as Volunteer Coordinator! 
I moved back to Chicago last fall after an eight year absence (by way of New York City and London) and have loved living in the Uptown neighborhood! After walking by the Gerber building nearly every day with my dog, Valentino, I became an Owner and got involved as a volunteer working on new Owner onboarding and merchandise fulfillment and was thrilled when the Board asked me to help out as Volunteer Coordinator. In my professional career, I’ve held management positions in ad tech companies for the past 10+ years. I love managing people - from small teams to hundreds across the country - and am excited to manage all aspects of volunteering at Chicago Market! I’m working closely with the Board to structure and organize all aspects of volunteers within Chicago Market so we can best utilize all our amazing Owners. This organization is currently ALL volunteers, which is incredible, and we need YOU. So email me and see how you can help us make this Market happen!

A little about me - I grew up in Wisconsin (yes, I'm a Packers fan) but call Chicago my home as it's the place I've lived the longest and love the most. While living in London, I went to pastry school at Leith’s School of Food and Wine and catered events while volunteering for a startup business in Surrey. When not walking the dog, my fiance and I enjoy (or used to, prior to lockdowns) wandering the neighborhood, shopping at local markets and cooking new creations. I love Chicago and have tried to volunteer as much as possible since my return (also for the Chicago Humanities Festival, Greater Chicago Food Depository) as a commitment to this amazing city. 

How Can You Support Your Co-op Now?

While the Board continues to work with the CTA and our consultants on the operational side of things, Owners can help with the Funding and Organizational side by Leveling Up your Ownership to the Cultivating level; donating or pledging a loan; volunteering or considering a Board position; and by sharing your enthusiasm for your Co-op with your friends and on social media.

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