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Sitka Food Co-op

Submitted by: Keith Nyitray
Business Website: http://sitkafoodcoop.org
State: Alaska
City: Sitka

Business Description

We are a community-based, member-owned buying service that provides wholesome natural and organic foods and products as inexpensively as possible

What one unique aspect of your business will make you succeed over the next year?

Sitka is an isolated rural island community of 9,000 individuals situated in Alaska’s “panhandle.” There are no roads in or out of town nor are there any other communities adjacent or connected to ours. The nearest community of any size is 90 air-miles away. Given that, the acquisition of any type of product is considerably more expensive than most regions of the United States. Of Sitka’s residents: 32% are Alaska Native, American Indian or from another minority; 17% of the population participates in the Food Stamp program; and, between 2003 and 2011, food costs rose 43.6%. They are also 57% higher than Portland, OR and 37% higher than Anchorage, AK. Our Co-op began as a result of the need to bring healthy, organic foods to Sitka at more affordable prices than are/were available. Since it's inception in 2011, the Co-op has grown from a few families that had previously joined together to form a "buying club," to an incorporated food cooperative that is now serving over 227 households & businesses with sales/purchases currently on track to surpass $360,000 for the 2017 calendar year. In 2016 we grew by 48.6% over 2015 and already, for January 2017 we are posting sales of over 68.1% over the same time last year. We are meeting a definite community need by providing quality food, at great prices, with great member service.

How does your business make a positive impact on the community?

Our motto is: "Bringing Good Food & Community Together" and besides being able to offer high quality food at reasonable prices (often 30% less than currently available) we support other local organizations and events through donations and sponsorships. That... and when people come to pick up their orders not only is it a major social event... people are actually saying "Thank You" for providing a much needed alternative to what is otherwise available locally.

What would you do with a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, training, and help from a SCORE mentor to grow your business?

We would use it as a fundraiser and put the proceeds towards obtaining a storefront of out own. The training, of course, would be a huge help in preparing us to handle future growth and expansion... which, with our current growth rate... we definitely need!
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