Welcome to the Dill Pickle
Your neighborhood grocery store, open to all!
>> Sharon Hoyer, General Manager.
Last week, I talked at some length about the four feasibility aspects of an expansion project—site, financial, design, and organizational—how they’re interrelated and developed in tandem. With so much focus on where the site will be, what it will look like and how much it will cost, the organizational work can sometimes feel secondary. This isn’t the case with the talented staff and board of the Dill Pickle! As a young co-op, learning and growing is in our DNA; our whipsmart, creative crew is excited to take on more responsibility, increase outreach and programming, and make our co-op better every day, before expansion and after.
And sharing information is part of the international co-op philosophy; you’ll see it hanging on our wall near the front window—Principle 6: cooperation among co-ops. Three members of our staff just returned from People’s Food Co-op in Kalamazoo, MI, where they met with their counterparts and learned how another great co-op navigated a major expansion. The good folks in K-zoo exemplified P6, hosting Dana Norden, our perishables lead, Amber Zook, our new produce lead, and Ally Young, our HOO and communications coordinator, giving them a store tour, answering questions one-on-one, and inviting them into their management meeting. Great ideas were shared both ways and new friendships were formed. Next week, two board members and two staff members (including yours truly), head to Madison for the annual CCMA food co-op conference…the biggest in the country! I can’t wait to report back what we learn about ushering Dill Pickle smoothly into a new home.
>> Sharon Hoyer, General Manager
After weeks of interviewing fantastic, like-minded architecture firms, we're excited to introduce you to the Dill Pickle expansion design team! Together, our architect and store designer will take the co-op's dreams (seating, community room, more produce and bulk, a deli, juice bar, owner services counter, meeting and office space) and show us ways to bring them to life in the spaces we're pursuing…with attention to sustainable and beautiful design, of course!
It may sound odd to hire an architect before a lease is signed, but it's actually quite important for us to have our designers involved in the early stages of the project; they'll create equipment lists and construction drawings that put real numbers to our projected budget. Lenders need to see how money will be spent on the new co-op. And we've picked the design team to show them just how exciting the Dill Pickle will be! So, without further ado I give you:
Architect: Matt Nardella of Moss Design, AIA, LEED-AP Architect / Founder / Bike Warrior. And Dill Pickle member-owner!
After graduating from the NewSchool of Architecture and spending nearly a decade designing sustainable architecture in San Diego, Matt returned to the character building climate of his native Chicago to found moss. His work is known for utilizing site orientation, creative use of green building techniques, and sustainable building materials. Matt understands the urban environment and how to sustain it as a community for all living things, and volunteers for the 47th Ward Green Council, Openlands Project where he is a volunteer Treekeeper, and as a guest laborer at Peasant’s Plot Farm. He has lectured on sustainable architecture and urban design nationwide. Matt enjoys The New York Times, cooking, wood working, and hydrology. He is not a fan of golf or flaxseed.
Store designer: Nicole Klimek of CDS Consulting Co-op
Nicole Klimek has always loved co-ops going back to when she was a child shopping with her mom at Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville, Minn. Throughout the years she has channeled this passion for community and cooperation and merged it with her expertise in development and design. Nicole specializes in food co-op store design in her work with CDS Consulting Co-op.
She is interested in how communities are created through good design, and sees food co-ops as a big part of what makes a place livable. Nicole’s grocery store plans incorporate green practices, including LEED certification, efficient operations, and comfortable shopping experiences. “Co-ops are focused on their communities and they want to bring good things to them when they do a project. I do too. I believe in respecting the environment and knowing where things come from—whether it’s food, clothes, or building materials,” she said.
Join us down the street at Cafe Mustache for an evening of merrymaking hosted by our fabulously talented HOOs, the Haines Sisters and Sima Cunningham. The co-op staff will quite possibly make a choreographed appearance. It's gonna be a doozy! If you can sing, dance, jest, slam, juggle, jam, or otherwise dazzle a crowd, this is your chance to gain co-op wide fame... ANNNND win a pair of 3-day passes to Pitchfork in July, now SOLD OUT!
Telling Our Story
>> Sharon Hoyer, General Manager.
Later this week, Board Director Gajus Miknaitis and I will visit Lombard to tell the Dill Pickle story to the energetic, fast-growing group organizing Prairie Food Co-op. The staff and board of the Dill Pickle are called on to tell our story quite a lot: to prospective owners in the store every day, to emerging co-ops in other parts of the city and suburbs, to schools and community groups (e.g. the outreach committee's recent visit to Ames school's Elev8 program), to leaders in the community helping us with expansion, and now to a whole new audience: institutional lenders.
To tell a story well, it helps to know your audience; what are they most interested in? What are their values? The lenders we're talking with--a community loan fund, a cooperative bank, business improvement funds--share our vision for what makes a healthy community, environment and economy. For that part of our story we have rapt attention. But there's another important part to tell, the part about our future success. We need to demonstrate that we run a financially sound business now and will do so on a much larger scale for a decade to come. I wish I had a couple bankers grocery shopping with me yesterday, when I had to wait in line to make my way through the produce section. It was our top sales day to date, the first time we broke 5-digit sales in a single day.
We need to tell this story in narrative and numbers to lenders and to our greater neighborhood. You'll soon see a call for Hands-On Owners to join the finance committee, ownership drive committee and owner loan committee. If you enjoy telling the story of the scrappy start up you own, the one that reintroduced Chicago to retail food co-ops, I hope you'll consider joining a team.