Retail Expansions

For a couple decades or more, many food co-ops have been growing strongly – in sales, in member owners, in staffing and store size.  Co-ops also have become more strongly networked, accumulating a great deal of shared professional experience that helps guide these businesses through the many challenges of growth and expansion.

Cooperative Grocer articles:

*A good introduction to thinking about retail co-op expansion is a 2005 article by Bill Gessner and Patricia Cumbie, “Co-op Expansions Raise the Bar: Retail performance is key when bigger is better”:

A great many retail co-op expansion stories have appeared in Cooperative Grocer and can be found through an archive search for “co-op expansions” or a co-op’s name:

Included among those past articles, “Avoiding Post-Expansion Burnout,” by Carolee Colter, offers lessons that may not have been anticipated: See also: “Avoiding Post-Expansion Burnout: The board of directors’ role,” by Bill Gessner:

A more selective list of Cooperative Grocer articles, including more depth of information and analysis on certain aspects of expansion, appears on the website of CDS Consulting Co-op:

Expansion Toolbox:

*Much of the best knowledge and advice on retail co-op expansions has been distilled in the “Expansion Toolbox,” by Bill Gessner, a veteran co-op consultant. The publication is available in print and as a pdf download from: TOOLBOX.

NCGA Development Cooperative:

Assistance for retail co-op expansion is provided by the Development Cooperative, a subsidiary of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (  The Development Cooperative is growing in its resources and services; here is an introductory report from 2011 by the Development Cooperative executive director, C.E. Pugh: