Thursday, March 8, 2012

Investing in the community

I think I've only just found out about this as the press conference is about to start, however the opportunity should be available for the foreseeable future. Neechi Foods, as I'm sure many of you are aware is a Co-op here in the North End on Dufferin, however is soon going to relocate to their new space in the former California Fruit building at the corner of Main and Euclid.

According to the News Release I saw this morning,
You are cordially invited to attend the public launch of our first Investment Share Offering. The purpose of the share offering is to help raise capital needed to complete the development of Neechi Commons community Business Complex at 865 Main St. The Investment Shares will be sold to the general public marking the first time that any cooperative in Manitoba has offered shares to non-members as well as to members. Residents of Manitoba will be eligible for the Province's 30% Community Enterprise Development Tax Credit on share purchases of up to $30,000.
Neechi Commons, which we hope to open in June, is expected to help bring badly needed revitalization to Main St. north of the CPR tracks and to adjoining North-end neighbourhoods. It will feature a neighbourhood supermarket, a fruit and vegetable courtyard and farmers' market, cafeteria restaurant, specialty boutiques, a bakery and an Aboriginal arts centre. Over 50 new jobs will be created, drawing heavily on local are residents. The complex, a a make-over and expansion of the California Fruit Market building, includes geo-thermal heating and cooling and has been awarded Green Globes certification for its high environmental standards.
Neechi Foods Co-op is incorporated as a worker cooperative, owned and operated by its staff. The existing store on Dufferin Ave. has been in operation for over 22 years.

So whadda ya think folks? Instead of investing in intangibles with your current investments, why not watch your investment at work? It will be interesting to see if Neechi ends up having the same success as Pollock's, which exceeded all expectations (see below from the Pollock's website).

In the first year, sales were up 22% above the projections outlined in the business plan and member equity investments were 38% above the established business plan targets.
Pollock’s continued to surprise by exceeding expectations and becoming a financially stable business. Most recently, in 2011, Pollock’s Hardware Co-op paid 5% interest to those who bought investment shares and has also expanded the investment share program. The co-op has also purchased the building at 1407 Main Street and has thereby guaranteed it’s continued presence in the North End neighbourhood. Membership has continued to grow and has nearly reached 2000 members.

Also in 2011, Pollock’s Hardware Co-op entered into a Social Enterprise Centre with BUILD and Manitoba Green Retrofit. Together they purchased a warehouse at 765 Main Street and will use the location to bring social enterprises and non-profits together. Pollock’s will rent 5000 square feet to use as a warehouse and supply BUILD and Manitoba Green Retrofit, as well as other contractors and the general public, with building supplies. This second location will open its door in the spring of 2012.

I personally can't wait to see the lumber side of Pollock's open up at 765 Main (entrance will likely still be off Austin St.). That has been the one major thing that they have been unable to compete with the big box stores on.

I hope the next big thing for the North End is some high quality shops and services (not service agencies!) for Selkirk Ave. Lotto Max is $41 million tomorrow - a girl can dream!


  1. Pollock's can't compete with the big box stores at all - everything there is super expensive. I live close by and it is still worthwhile to drive out to Rona in East Elmwood.

  2. Yes, but luckily not everyone has that mentality or else the only stores in town would be four giant Walmarts at every perimeter entrance to town.

    Things cost more at neighbourhood stores, boutiques but there's an investment angle to it - whether it's convenience, the different level of service, supporting people they like or just finding it preferable to having a boarded up vacant building at the end of the road.

    I hope Neechi does well and that people put their money where their mouths are. As Pollock's, Half Pints etc. have shown, there is a strong niche market for supporting home-grown, local businesses (despite not selling at Walmart prices) and I hope they can tap into that.