Co-optastic Carnival recruits founding members, raises money

Local food co-op launches second stage of plan with event, begins prepping for 2019 or 2020 opening



Nnenna Aggda, who competed in the salad competition, shows off the ingredients used in her homemade “Yommy Salad (My Creation)” on Friday evening at the Pullman Good Food Co-optastic Carnival on Pine Street Plaza.

MAGGIE QUINLAN, Evergreen reporter

The Pullman Good Food Co-op threw its first fundraising event, the Co-optastic Carnival, on Friday at Pine Street Plaza. The event featured live music, games, a salad competition and the opportunity to become a member of the co-op.

Gaining new members is a primary goal for the budding cooperative non-profit. Destiny Sternod, president of the Pullman Good Food Co-op Board and owner of Main Street Squeeze, said the event helped to finance the second step in the board’s eight-step plan.

“Currently what we’re fundraising for is really just the grassroots efforts to take care of all the nitty-gritty work — the logistical stuff behind starting the co-op,” she said.

Starting Monday, the board will be waiting on the completion of a feasibility study, which should take around six weeks. Paid for with a grant from the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, the feasibility study will help the board understand the demand in the area, how much funding the co-op will require and when it will be able to open shop.

Although there is not a set timeline yet, Sternod said the goal is to open the co-op in late 2019 or early 2020. The feasibility study will help determine a more concrete timeline, Sternod said.

The Co-optastic Carnival gave the co-op a head start on recruiting founding members, or the third stage of development. These early adopters have already invested in the start-up costs.

The co-op wants to get 100 members to reach the third stage. Memberships became available online last-week, Sternod said. The carnival included a booth where more Pullmanites could buy their co-op memberships or donate. After the first hour of the event, Sternod said the co-op had 20 new members.

When the co-op has 200 members, the board will enter the fourth stage and initiate a financial analysis. Then it will enter the fifth, sixth and seventh stages. After it develops a business plan, chooses a location and raises 25-30 percent of the project’s cost, the co-op will be ready to hire staff and open the doors. At this point, the goal is to have 1,000 members.

While the carnival helped spread the word and recruit members, Sternod said it’s also important to engage the community and share ideas.

Kids could participate in the carnival’s $1 games. Winners received prizes, which included pumpkins and gift cards from local businesses all over Pullman. Throughout the play, event-goers heard folk and country tunes by the three-piece band, The Cherry Sisters Revival. Later, local musician Dan Maher played for the audience.

Local support was at the heart of this event. Nathan Weller, Pullman Good Food Co-op member and Pullman City Council member, said the community is in charge as the co-op develops.

“It’s risen organically,” Weller said. “Lots of people have been interested in a local co-op, one that’s not in Moscow so they don’t have to travel, so it’s been very community-driven.”

Weller said he’s happy about the co-op’s main goals.

“It’s important that our local food co-op is also focused on low-income community members’ needs,” he said.

This goal is in line with the Good Food Co-op’s mission statement, posted on their website, “to provide equitable access to healthy, affordable, quality food.”