Tough rows to hoe
Aloha Kokua Market Members,
First and foremost, the Board of Directors would like to thank you for your patience and generosity during this very difficult phase of our store’s existence. Through your share purchases, donations, loans and volunteerism, Kokua has weathered the storm and remains open today.
Thanks to you, many important tasks have been completed. We hired a professional interim manager who has done a major product reset and increased our selection of both natural foods and local product. We have reduced our accounts payable to vendors by $50,000.
We replaced the failing cash register system. Member volunteers have saved us over $25,000 by repainting the store, inside and out, as well as renewing the lanai courtyard. Lighting has been improved as well as better refrigeration for our chilled dairy selection. We realize that more attention and energy will need to be focused on areas like local products, produce, and grab-‘n-go.
Our customer count is increasing despite the traditionally slow summer season when UH students and staff vacate the island. Sales are continuing to increase but are not sufficient to get us to breakeven in the near term.
As members, you’re deservingly owed the hard truth of what we stand to lose if we don’t meet our financial goals immediately. In addition to our current sales, we need an estimated $30,000 per month for the next two months just to keep Kokua afloat. Although we forecast sales to pickup in mid-August and continue to through the fall, we will need substantial improvement in sales revenue and expanded inventory to break even by November.
Ulupono Initiative has pledged $20,000 in grant money if we are able to fundraise another $90,000.
This week, we met with the Feed the Hunger Foundation, which encouraged Kokua to apply for a loan of $70,000. The Foundation will decide to approve or decline our application by July 11th. If approved and secured, this loan combined with a member loan of $20,000 already in hand, will enable Kokua to receive another $20,000 grant from Ulupono Initiative.
In short, if the Feed the Hunger funds are approved we will reach the $90,000 required by Ulupono to get our next grant of $20,000. That will give us $110,000 to move forward with. If we decide to move forward, this will help us get through the summer and allow us to continue improving the store, enhance member benefits and source novel, exciting local products.
Potential Funding Source
We’re in the process of obtaining a Kiva loan, which is a crowdfunding loan that assists in expanding financial access and unlocking capital for underserved yet deserving causes. To demonstrate social capital and get our $8,000 loan approved, we’re required to gather support from our friends and members through a 15-day initial fundraising period. We need at least 25 people to pledge a loan of $25 or more to cover a portion of the request. Kokua is being supported by the Hawaii Food Producers Fund, and it will match any dollar pledged with another dollar. So this will make the entire process faster. Click on this link to help Kokua get this loan.
Ulupono has pledged an additional $40,000 if we make various weekly sales goals in the store. That first hurdle is getting sales up to a constant $35,000/week. Finally, Ulupono is paying for $40,000 in marketing support to address Kokua’s need to reach beyond our membership and the surrounding community in order to create more sales and awareness opportunities. We have already met with their marketing consultant.
Aside from this important partnership, the Board is committed to rolling up our sleeves by working to improve store operations and purchasing. Our Board Chair, who managed Kokua in the early 80’s, is prepared to take over as interim general manager at no cost for the next few months – while searching for a skilled, locally based manager.
Other Board Members will be helping to expand our prepared food, island produce and other local products, along with better signage.
Hale Mahana (HSH) Mediation
Kokua board members are attending a mediation with HSH on July 11. HSH is the student condominium next door. Last year, during the construction of this building, Kokua’s parking lot was inaccessible, resulting in a decline in sales, which pushed Kokua over the brink. If we reach a settlement on July 11, the board will develop a plan for going forward. If a settlement is not reached, the case will proceed to trial which is scheduled for February 2020.
Members Meeting August 4
There is an important Kokua membership meeting scheduled for Sunday August 4, following the mediation. Location will be announced later. Please join us at this time to review where things stand and how we will need to proceed.
All of these efforts will need to come together to provide sufficient funds to right our business and move forward with Vision 2020. Kokua’s existence has been the solution to so many issues and our role in this community makes a real difference. Above all else, Kokua is socially motivated, rather than profit motivated. But our future hangs in the balance of the two.
With gratitude and aloha,
Kokua Board of Directors
What is Kokua Market?
Established in 1971, Kokua Market is the first natural foods cooperative in Hawaii, and the only one in Honolulu! We have high standards for what we carry, with a focus on fresh, local & organic products. Owner or not, anyone can shop at Kokua Market.
Our mission is to operate thriving grocery stores in accordance with cooperative principles and to promote healthy, sustainable living in Hawaii.
What is a Co-op?
A co-op is a business cooperatively owned by people with a shared vision and values. Becoming an owner of Kokua Market is an investment in the community's access to healthy and sustainable food. Our 4,000+ owners have a say in what we sell and how we operate. Scroll down for information on becoming an owner!
Shop Local & Vote With Your Dollars
Our goal is to provide our community with local, organic, and healthy food!
Shop at Kokua Market to vote with your dollars in supporting the local economy and creating a more sustainable food system.
Explore our many departments for a description of what we offer!
Join Our Community - Become an Owner!
What are the benefits of becoming an Owner? Becoming an Owner of Kokua Market is an investment in your health, our community, and the local economy. Benefits include:
Owners Advantage pricing (additional discounts on select items)
Discounted movie tickets to Consolidated Theaters ($8/ticket)
Owners Appreciation Weekend: 4 weekends/year, owners receive 15% off storewide.
Annual Meeting: a free dinner with Kokua managers, Board Members, and fellow owners to get updated on what's happening at the market
Electing Board Members: Kokua Market is governed by an owner-elected Board of Directors. Elections typically occur once a year
Have a say in your store! We truly value the opinion of our Owners and welcome suggestions to better serve you and the community as a whole
Volunteer: Volunteering at Kokua is a great way to become part of our team and experience what it is like to be part of a co-op. Volunteer three hours a week and receive a 15% discount on all your purchases at Kokua the following week. Just fill out an application at the cash registers, and our Volunteer Coordinator will get back to you.
How do I sign up?
A one-time $160* investment makes you a lifetime owner. Sign up online or in the store!
*A $10/month payment plan is available for those who prefer it