Co-Op Commercial Products

Most of this plan is concerned with what we can do with the farm, the kitchen and store, the people, and what we can do within our sphere of influence by redirecting the money we are already spending.  We can do all these things, make some money, save some money, improve our individual situations, and have doing it.  We can take the co-op from a humble beginning to a respectable and profitable local operation that does good things for everyone involved as well as for thee community.  It's all about starting with what we have, working together to make something of it, and taking a project one step further.

A licensed kitchen fits in well with getting the enterprise off the ground, but a deli, sandwich shop or even a busy restaurant is only a fraction of the true potential within our grasp.  Take it one step further: use the kitchen to produce our own commercial products.  I'm not suggesting we become the next Twinkie.  We're not a mega corporation with a factory full of automated machinery, bringing ingredients in through a pipeline and pumping out palletized product on the other end of the building.  That's a few steps further down the road.  We are not set up for that sort of product.  We are set up for high quality and a market region of perhaps a couple hundred miles.  

Includes bagels, muffins, rolls, boules.  If we have made it to the commercial sales stage, we've been making bread in good quantity just for our own consumption.  Most of the staff will be experienced, equipment will be available, as will suppliers.  An endless variety can be produced with a few ingredients.  Restaurants, sandwich shops, food shops are all potential customers.  

Holidays would have us busy just for our own store.  If there is one product that would stand out in a restaurant, it's pie.  Adding equipment for more volume calls for pie pans, an oven, and a cooling rack.  We would have the ability to produce a distinctive pie specifically for a single restaurant.  

As with pies, the ingredients have such versatility that customization gives us a market niche.  

A line of our own unique desserts commands a premium. 
Creativity is key.  Extra points for Lasciviousness.

The market is considerably broader than restaurants and food shops.  Well packaged, these can be sold in convenience stores.  Girl Scouts have their cookies.  We can produce cookies specific to a High School fundraiser program.  Chocolate Chip cookies with M&Ms matching the school colors.  Shortbread 'Oreo' style cookies cut in the shape of the school mascot.  Individual pies with the box printed according to a selected design: "Smallville Eagles Class of '85!"  Any fundraising cause would be appropriate: "Save the Dowtown Oak".  
Cookies bake quickly, ship well, require no refrigeration, and if one breaks, it's not going to ruin the product.

What's interest here is the fact ice cream would not conflict with cookies.  This means we can maximize part of the kitchen and still have more we can do before looking for a bigger place.

Another non-conflicting product.  Cookies, ice cream, and candy share many common ingredients.  If the candy and cookies get messed up, we create a new flavor of ice cream with the pieces.

It is conceivable that a handful of products can maximize our staffing or equipment capacity.  While there are things we can do to keep on growing, we need to think about what 'maximized staffing' would mean.  It means the little co-op we began to make some money and save some money has grown to the point that everyone who wants to is putting in as much time as they wish.  It means our productivity is high, and we've long since beaten minimum wage.  It means many people have improved their financial situation.  It means there is nothing we can't do.



Cooperative Enterprise, Plan Outline