Total Is Nearly Double Original Goal of $800,000 for Together We Grow Campaign
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHILADELPHIA, PA, Dec. 19, 2016 — With more than 300 individual lenders, Weavers Way's Together We Grow member loan campaign has taken in more than $1.5 million, surpassing both the original goal of $800,000 and the revised mark of $1 million.
“This was a complete win/win,” said Weavers Way General Manager Jon Roesser. “Not only would we prefer to pay interest to our own members over other lenders, but the success of the member loan campaign has also demonstrated our credibility to other lenders and added significant flexibility to the overall funding of this $4.3 million expansion.”
Weavers Way expects to open the Ambler store, its third and the first outside Northwest Philadelphia, in late spring 2017. Construction is scheduled to start in the new year in the former Bottom Dollar grocery store at 217 E. Butler Ave. in the Montgomery County borough.
State laws governing co-ops limited the loan offering to Weavers Way members, and members of the Ambler Food Co-op joined in droves in order to be able to participate, accounting for more than $300,000 of the total, said Loan Committee co-chair and AFC President Kathleen Casey. The 450-member Ambler group has been working for four years to bring a co-op to the borough, which has had no grocery store since the Bottom Dollar closed in 2014 and the Ambler Acme went dark in 2009. In partnering with Weavers Way on the new store, AFC voted last fall to fold their organization into the older co-op when the lease is finalized on the store site.
"This is a huge testament to the dedication and generosity of our cooperative community," said Laura Morris Siena, the other Loan Committee co-chair and a member of the board of the 6,000-plus-household Weavers Way.
The campaign benefited both from “early adopters” who made pledges during the summer and early fall before the official launch in October, and from a wave of momentum right before the campaign ended Dec. 9, with nearly $400,000 received in the last two days alone. While a few individual loans topped $40,000, the majority of loans were for less than $3,000. The minimum was $1,000; lenders could choose returns of 2.5 percent or 4 percent simple annual interest, depending on the term of the loan.
Supporters of expansion note that it will help Weavers Way have a greater impact on local food systems and the local economy — creating 45 jobs, increasing business for local suppliers and helping more members deepen their involvement in the community.
Casey and Siena credited the success of the loan campaign to volunteers from both organizations and Weavers Way staff, whose contributions ranged from mundane — working phone banks, delivering loan documents, updating the loan-tracker poster in the Co-op stores — to technical, including serving on the Loan Committee and helping write the offering memorandum.
"As co-chairs, we feel honored to have been able to hear from so many members who spoke of their excitement, their dedication to co-ops and their strong desire to expand the cooperative economy and support the local community," Casey and Siena said in a statement. "In this way, the success of this campaign is not only in dollars raised, but in the intangible but important effects of members participating and making our co-op stronger."
"We believe that Ambler residents can have direct input in the planning and progress of our local grocery store. Together, we can work to provide healthy food items for our neighbors and families," said AFC member Susan Morgan, explaining why she and her husband, David, took on a loan.
"Making a loan to Weavers Way was a simple way to invest in an organization that is part of my daily life and that makes a difference," said Weavers Way member Joann Hyle. "We cannot control a lot of what is happening around us, but we can support local organizations like Weavers Way that embody the values that we hold dear."
Said lender Barbara Bloomfield, another Weavers Way member: "I believe in community-owned businesses that are run for the benefit of their workers and their community and are not fixated on making a profit for executives and shareholders. That's why I love Weavers Way."
About Weavers Way: Based in Northwest Philadelphia and cooperatively owned by its more than 6,000 member households, "the Co-op" has two grocery stores, two wellness specialty stores, a pet-supply store and 5 acres under cultivation within city limits. From its start in 1973 as a neighborhood food-buying club, Weavers Way has grown into a $22 million-a-year full-service grocery business that focuses on products that are sustainable, healthful, local and affordable. Visit www.weaversway.coop for more information.
About Ambler Food Co-op: A group of dedicated and hardworking neighbors who pursued a vision of a community-owned and -operated grocery store in downtown Ambler, PA, AFC is now partnering with Weavers Way to open a brick-and-mortar store at 217 E. Butler Pike. Visit www.amblerfoodcoop.org for more information.