Wednesday, June 6, 2012

All Eyes Are On...Chico Natural Foods Co-op!

We love sharing the stories of our local businesses with the Chico City Council. Last night, our June Business Spotlight featured Chico Natural Foods Co-op and General Manager Liza Tedesco.

More than a local business, Chico Natural Foods Co-op is actually owned by many of its customers...3,000 of them, in fact. With a Board of 7, the Co-op is expertly run by a dedicated staff who not only serve the community, but build it.

We invite you to read their story:

 "Chico Natural Foods Co-op was founded in 1973 when 15 local families formed a buying club in order to bring the community a new way of choosing food that was not over-processed, sugary, or pesticide-ridden. The buying club grew into a storefront that was first located at 15th Street and Park Avenue, then 1st and Orange, then across the street from its current location, and finally – in 1988– at 8th and Main Street in downtown Chico where it lives today.

Chico Natural Foods Co-op derives its identity, in part, from its downtown location, providing customers with an authentic, unique shopping experience, and serving a niche need for a specialty grocery store in south Chico. CNFC is committed to remaining in the downtown region as long as the location continues to make good business sense.

Chico Natural Foods Co-op began as a non-profit but officially became a Cooperative in 2004, when the Co-op sold its first Member-Owner Equity Shares. Today, the Co-op has nearly 3,000 active owners as well as a visionary Board of Directors and is thriving. Liza describes this as a “very exciting time for the organization,” and attributes the growth and health of the business to the dedication of the staff, owners, and Board members.

The Co-op has been described as a community hub and as a good place to connect with people of similar and diverse interests. The business is driven by commerce but also by community needs, and is designed for the individuals who use it. CNFC has also added sustainability as a priority and engages local artists and craftspeople in projects and programs whenever possible. Both the Produce and Grocery departments regularly reach out to local farmers to assist in business development and product marketing.

The business is dynamic and responsive and focuses on a triple bottom line in all decisions: social equity, the local economy, and the environment. Liza is proud to report that the Co-Op has seen a 15% increase in sales between January and May of this year, compared to the same time period last year. With continued growth and vitality projected, CNFC will further focus on education and other programs to better serve the community.

Chico Natural Foods Co-op is committed to maintaining strong partnerships with the City and other local organizations. In Liza’s words, the Co-op is a “living entity” that prides itself on staying relevant to the community it serves."

Many thanks to Chico Natural Foods Co-op for their participation in our Business Spotlight program. If you are interested in being our next "spotlight" please contact me.

Thank you for supporting your local business community!

~ Katie