Successful Fundraising Efforts Point to Better Days at KCFC

Charlie McCurdy, for the Shuttle

KCFC’s Five-point Plan for Renewal

  1. Strengthen the co-op’s financial position through increased capitalization and operational efficiencies, and increasing sales by improving the shopping experience.
  2. Enhance marketing execution and commit more resources to drive new and repeat traffic to the store, educate shoppers, and promote utilization of co-op friendly programs.
  3. Expand customer reach in untapped communities near the co-op through programming and outreach.
  4. Improve product mix and pricing, focusing on offering more affordable choices across the store.
  5. Deepen member engagement as invested stakeholders in the business.

Kensington Food Co-op (KCFC) isn’t out of the woods yet. But recent successful fundraising and other efforts are keeping the scrappy store on Coral Street near the intersection of Lehigh and Frankford avenues afloat, according to Mike Richards, KCFC general manager.

“People are volunteering their time and are committed to trying to make a difference,” said Richards, a veteran of Whole Foods and a former manager of the now-shuttered Creekside Co-op in Elkins Park. “There’s a solid community of folks trying to make this a neighborhood for their families. I’m pleased to be a part of that.”

After 10 years of organizational and fundraising efforts totaling about $2 million, the co-op opened in April of last year. But cost overruns, lower-than-expected sales, the lack of cash to restock and other issues put KCFC in crisis mode at the end of last year.

“When we opened there was a lot of excitement, but, like any store, it drops off after a while,” Richards said. “We were struggling to put groceries on the shelves and it had a significant impact on sales. We reached out to the founders and, in December, they laid out a goal of raising $20,000 in December and again in January. We hit the [targets] so we have a little breathing room.”

On Feb. 10, KCFC sent out a “WE DID IT” email announcing that a new member contributed a $5,000 member loan, which put them over their January target.

“We have officially closed the gap,” the announcement said. “Moving forward, you’ll notice we won’t be talking much about fundraising. We will be shifting our strategy to ‘growing our way’ into a better financial position.”

KCFC board members and supporters had reached out via social media to existing and potential members, including a Jan. 13 livestream on Facebook. In the end they raised $22,246 in January, including:

  • $6,748 deposited into Co-op Ca$h, or household debit accounts;
  • $1,260 in equity;
  • $4,238 in cash donations, and
  • $10,000 committed in member loans

Board members explained that the funds raised would be used to cover remaining construction and equipment debts and help return KCFC to a more secure long-term financial position.

Activities advertised on the co-op’s walls and tables provide tangible examples of KCFCs efforts to reach customers and engage members. They include First Friday events with artists, Happy Hours, a plant swap, Saturday story hours and festivals in the store’s parking lot.

Richards mentioned more foot traffic, increasing sales and growing membership as positive developments on the business end.

“We’re still playing catch-up, but things are moving in the right direction,” he said.