I am interested in looking at different options for this.
Some of my questions include:
Do you need a wholesaler's license? If so, is it hard to get one?
Can you just distribute food out of an individual's house or do you need an independent site?
How big does the group have to be (assuming they're 811'ers) for it to be feasible? Or are there minimum orders?
I live in southern California, so there might be different rules for different countries/states, but I'd love to hear from anyone who has experience with this.
I subscribed to your other thread about this, hoping that others would chime in with advice.... but i guess no one responded? Aw well, we will figure it out ourselves!
So...i think we can be our own produce-buying group and keep it informal. For example, if a few of us want lots of citrus, we talk to a farmer and make the arrangements. Since there is no sales tax on produce, it's just a matter of reimbursement. Right? This is something we have done in the past and can continue doing now.
But then, what if we want to make it a bigger, "official" operation? I don't know a lot about that. I searched "How to start a cooperative" in google and there are some resources that look good, but i haven't had time to dig into that. I have been doing some other work toward this project, though, and will share as soon as i have any news.
Sounds good. I think maybe one step in this is for a bunch of us to get together at some point and see what kind of things we'd like to get and how much.
I am still researching and I don't think it has to be anything big or "official" (probably not worth the extra work).
There is an AMAZING co-op in Texas, started by Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram (a member here) and run with LOTS of energy and love!
Here's a link to the history page-the co-op started in her living room!
You may be able to poke around the website to find out some more answers to your questions...
Based on my experience of ordering bulk produce with my boyfriend (in Florida), we had to meet a $350 minimum in order to have a delivery. We didn't need to order every week, so we ordered the right amount of things that would feed us immediately (citrus, berries, greens, tomatoes, etc.) and others that would last longer or take a while to ripen (mangoes, bananas, persimmons, pears, etc.).
With just two 811ers it can definitely be done! Or even just 1 811er and a couple of health minded people who could split cases with you.
Good luck and hope this helps!
I purposely found this thread tonight after reading just the title earlier today for the express purpose of recommending Kristina
great minds, etc. etc. :)
You should contact Kristina who started this co-op in Texas, she might have some of the info that you're looking for.
I have done this in the past, and do so currently as well, except I am so far the sole member of my co-op =D
I have no experience of U.S. regulations though, being based in Europe. I need neither licence nor company, but I do need to meet a minimum order to have the goods delivered to me, as I have no means of picking them up myself. This currently means I order once every 2-3 weeks, until I find others willing to order with me.
I started buying wholesale last August and invited people to order with me. I add 10% to each order to cover my time and gas and wear on my car etc. As long as I don't resell, there is no tax, that's pretty nice. I bring the cases back to my home and people come pick-up. At first the wholesaler did not want to work with an individual, but as I talked to them about what I wanted they said if I had a tax ID they'd sell to me. I then just drove down to produce row and talked with the workers down there at each company and found that only one company sold organic, I took a card when I was there with a name and number to call and I called them up again with a little more knowledge and confidence and acted like I knew what I was doing. I said, "I need to order some organics". They threw me to the new sales girl, (she was actually the best there), and I was told I had to pay upon pick-up of my produce. So at first I floated a check and took payment from people as they came to get their produce but a few times people didn't come 'til the next day or forgot their check book. Recently I decided to have people mail a check to me upon placing their order. That works much better for me. My original sales girl left a few months ago and now they don't care whether I pay when I pick-up or get invoiced, I guess I have gained their trust.
At first I had 20 people say they wanted to order. I sent out a long e-mail with all the info. and no one responded. After talking with several friends, I believe people are so busy, they didn't take the time to read it and it was not high on the priority list as it is for us raw fooders. I have a few friends who order with me and I'm happy with that. If I wanted to get more, I believe weekly reminders are essential, even with my friends, if I don't call them up, they won't order, lol, even though when they get their orders they are thrilled with the price and quality and abundance.
I contacted Kristina 6 months ago, to ask her mostly about charging. She adds a fee:
"Everything is included in the $47 or $87. The boxes are budgeted according to a $40 or an $80 value, and the extra $7 is used to help cover the expenses of making the co-op function (tents, gas, lanterns, food, food, food, trailers, etc.)"
Her co-op is also a non-profit, so I wanted to know about how she goes about reimbursing herself for her time and gas etc. She took a while to get back to me and said she is extremely busy and would soon be writing something about how to start and run a co-op. Maybe she has written something on her blog, but I didn't get my answer yet. So I just did the 10% per order. If I was going to get big, I would want to know more details of how this works, being a non-profit and getting compensated for my time and gas etc.
I do not do shares, it seemed easier to just do cases or half cases.
If I think of anything else, I'll post again, or ask me any questions. I would LOVE to be apart of a co-op like rawfully organic, I am focused on moving right now but it's high on my list of things to do. Food in the hands of the people, I say!!! Small farms!!! Organic!!! Plant more fruit trees!!! ....