GREEN RIVER — Residents who want to bring another grocery store to Green River can invest their own money in a startup campaign. Wild Sage Market is looking for at least 1,200 member-owners to invest in the co-op.
People are invited to make a one-time $300 equity purchase, though it can be split into four $75 payments over the course of a year.
Laurie Carollo, Wild Sage Market Board secretary, explained the campaign to listeners at the Rock Springs farmers market on Thursday.
“It’s really up to the community,” she said.
The sooner they get people signed up and the more they tell others about the campaign, the sooner they should be able to open their doors.
“It’s a tough sell to get people to invest in the theoretical,” she admitted, though residents have shown an interest. As of Thursday afternoon, Carollo said 123 people had signed up.
“We’ve got momentum,” she said.
WHY INVEST IN THE STORE?
“By supporting WSM, you are ensuring the success of your locally-owned grocery store that will provide the community with access to a variety of local, regional, sustainable, and organic products,” states a Wild Sage Market flier. “Supporting a food co-op means putting your dollars where your values are: the cooperative system, healthy communities, and local farms and businesses. Finally, supporting any local business keeps your money in your community.”
The market will be open to the public, not just those who invest in the store, but members will receive perks such as member-owner sales, patronage dividends if the co-op earns a surplus and free or discounted classes.
“Give us a chance to make this work,” Carollo asked.
Plans for the co-op are expected to progress based on the number of members invested. With 300 to 450 members, the market will develop a volunteer base and determine feasibility. At 450 to 600 members, it will prepare budgets and finalize its business plan. Around 600 to 800 members, it will select a site and conduct a capital campaign. With 800 to 1,200 members or more, the board expects to construct or renovate a facility and prepare for the grand opening.
The board recognizes there is always a risk involved with investment, and it is working to limit the risk undertaken by resident investors. Carollo said they plan to keep residents’ contributions in a saving account and not use that money until they reach the 600- to 800-member benchmark, when they are settling on a property. Under this system, if they fail to reach their goals, the money would be easier to return.
In addition, according to the member-owner application, “As with any investment, your ownership share is subject to risk. If the co-op is unsuccessful, the Board of Directors will determine distribution of remaining assets. Every effort will be made to refund your member-owner equity share.”
GETTING THE MESSAGE OUT
Wild Sage Market supporters plan to attend future farmers markets in Green River and Rock Springs, and will also partner with the Wild Sage Garden for the Green River Pond and Garden tour on Saturday, Aug. 10.
They are also looking to recruit more volunteers to spread the word.
Meanwhile, they are still waiting on the status of their grant application. In May the Green River City Council voted to seek an $8,080 Technical Assistance Grant from Wyoming Main Street for a feasibility study regarding the location and development of a secondary grocery store.
Calls to Green River Urban Renewal Agency/Main Street Administrator Jennie Melvin seeking an update on the grant status went unreturned as of press time Friday.
For more information about the Wild Sage Market, visit www.facebook.com/wildsagemarket or wildsagegreenriver.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Copies of the brochure and membership application can be found at rocketminer.com.