The Shared Harvest Cooperative Board hired Debbie Suassuna of G2G Research to write a Market Study focusing on evaluation of proposed sites and a sales forecast analysis. The board proposed 3 sites near downtown Elgin from 6000 to 10,000 square feet of space. Ms. Suassuna spent two days here in the Elgin area in January and researched the trade area.
In her report Ms. Suassuna noted that the natural food segment of the retail food industry has been increasing at a rate considerably faster than the conventional segment of the food industry. While no exact statistics are available, it has generally been reported in various trade journals that the size of the natural and local food market has been growing at a rate of between 5% and 10% per year.
- The natural foods co-op store will serve a moderate-sized trade area in terms of geography that includes the communities of Elgin, South Elgin, southern Dundee, and northern Saint Charles.
- The trade area for the proposed natural foods co-op contains a relatively high population base of 178,100 persons who reside in households (versus the Co-op database store average of 98,000 persons). However, the trade area exhibits a demographic composition that is weaker-than-average with regard to most of the demographic variables that correlate positively with natural foods co-op sales performance levels
- The competitive environment to be faced by the proposed co-op is relatively weak as there are currently no direct (i.e., natural/organic food store) competitors located within the defined trade area.
- The co-op planning group identified three potential sites for the proposed natural foods co-op. Based on the population size, demographic composition, and competitive environment of the Elgin market area, combined with the experiences of other natural food co-ops in similar market situations, it appears that there is sufficient sales potential to support a co-op food store.
- With this information, the Shared Harvest board continues to pursue a business plan to attract investors and loans.