The Next Chapter of Cooperation in the Chippewa Valley Begins
It feels like the end of an era. We are seeing changes at the little co-op in downtown Eau Claire, the culmination of two years of cooperation, planning, work, and communication. On October 1, 2021, our merger became legally complete with the filing of our merger documents, articles of incorporation, and bylaws with the state of Wisconsin. Since then we have been working hard to consolidate and merge the operational aspects of our two locations.
A very public portion of this work was on display on December 28th as we took on some rebranding efforts on Farwell Street in Eau Claire. It feels bittersweet! The carrot coming down off the side of the building represents more than just a co-op logo. Often referred to as the “organic carrot,” it was drawn early on in Just Local Food Co-op’s history by Breanna Capra, who incidentally drew an early logo for Menomonie Market, and has been a member of both co-ops practically since their inceptions. The carrot appeared in large format painted on the garage door of the first JLF location in 2005. And the carrot will live on in Eau Claire. After cleaning it up well, we will put it into safe storage, and we can’t wait to display it prominently in a public area of a newly expanded, sustainably built, room-for-all-the-food co-op.
Along with branding updates at the Eau Claire store, the following changes will also be happening in the coming weeks:
• All email communication will come from Menomonie Market Food Co-op. If you currently receive emails from JLF, your communication preferences will be automatically transferred to Menomonie Market Food Co-op’s database so you stay in the know regarding sales, events, and other news from both stores.
• The Just Local Food Co-op social media profiles will be merged with Menomonie Market Food Co-op’s profiles. All past posts from JLF will be archived before merging takes place in early 2022. Follow @menomoniemarket now so you don’t miss an update!
• Our staff will work on getting Eau Claire shoppers access to the online ordering platform located at shop.mmfc.coop. More information on how this will work will be shared in early 2022.
• The legacy of supporting local suppliers will come to life as we introduce our Meet The Locals Program at the Eau Claire store. This will include installing more signage identifying local products at shelf, increasing annual grants to local producers, and sourcing more local products in every department.
Through this large body of work, the board and staff are reminded of and thankful for your excitement about merger—we hear it in the aisles of the stores, at the checkout lanes, and through email and social media. Keep that coming! Your ideas about how you want our co-op to change and grow are crucial, and they guide our work from what products we carry to how we will proceed into the future.
Our expansion planning in Eau Claire is also moving ahead. Right now we are crunching a lot of numbers and determining what kind of financial package is prudent and feasible for the co-op. The City of Eau Claire is reviewing our proposal, and if things go as planned, the Redevelopment Authority and the City Council will approve the development project at the corner of Barstow and Galloway. If we clear that hurdle, it’s on to creating an offering to all owners of Preferred Shares in the co-op. Used to help the development of co-ops all across the country, we have the opportunity to offer dividend-bearing investment shares to our owners. It is a true iteration of the third cooperative principle—Member Economic Participation. In 2013, Menomonie Market was the smallest co-op in the country to raise one million dollars, and we did it in only six weeks. Now, it is commonplace for co-op owners to raise one to three million dollars to bring their co-op to the next level. Over the next few months, we will be determining a fundraising goal that will put a vibrant grocery store in downtown Eau Claire and be a market for more local farms and food producers than ever before.