Food Co-ops

Staff person in produce department of food co-op

Between 1991 and 2008, CDS helped build a team of independent consultants to serve the needs of the growing food co-op sector. During that time, we helped create and sustain major initiatives in financial benchmarking and performance improvement, store expansion and growth, and board governance. In 2008, we helped that group of talented consultants form their own shared services cooperative, and today we encourage store owners and managers to contact CDS Consulting Cooperative for assistance in improving the operations of your co-op.

Starting in 2002, CDS began working with other organizations to address the growing interest in starting new food co-ops. We were a founding partner in the creation of Food Co-op Initiative (and its predecessor organization, Food Co-op 500). Food Co-op Initiative is a partner non-profit that delivers online and in-person training and tools that help communities in starting brand new food co-ops and buying clubs. We encourage you to contact them with your questions.

For communities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, CDS is able to provide generalized assistance in starting a new food co-op.  If you’re located in the Upper Midwest, you are welcome to contact us, and we will make sure that you get connected to answers and resources that you need.

Since 2004, six new consumer-owned food co-ops have opened their doors, in part because of assistance provided by CDS. Those stores today represent over 12,000 member-owners, and annual sales of over $20 million.

Food Co-ops Projects

Chatham Marketplace opened in spring 2006 to offer rural Pittsboro, North Carolina residents, an alternative place to shop for locally grown natural and organic food products. CDS’s Food Co-op Consultants assisted with project management support, financial projections, market analysis, fundraising, board training in policy governance, location selection, and securing management staff. CDS continues to provide ongoing support to Chatham Marketplace.