Who actually owns the store?

SunCoast is a community-owned and built grocery store. There are no outside investors or behind the scenes owners, it is literally a store built by the community coming together to build something amazing. Once there are enough owners, SunCoast will seek loans and grants to fund the remaining costs to open the store.

How do I become an Owner?

Ownership is open to anyone living in California. You just need to complete a brief application, read the owner disclosure statement, and submit payment online or by check. The one-time share cost is $200 per household with no annual fees. We also offer a payment plan for those who need to spread the share cost out over time.

Become an Owner
Why should I become an Owner?

Are you tired of driving out of town for groceries? Do you want to support local farms and local small businesses? Do you want a neighborhood grocery store with a great selection of fresh, natural, organic, specialty and sustainably-grown products? Do you want to shop in a store with friendly, knowledgeable staff? Do you want to keep your food dollars local? If you answered YES to any of these questions, then you should become a SunCoast owner!

We need you, your neighbors, your customers, and your friends to join SunCoast today. The sooner we can demonstrate local commitment through community ownership, the sooner we can seek needed grants and loans, and the sooner the store will open! When the store opens, anyone can shop at the store, but only owners will be eligible to vote, receive owner-only discounts, and earn dividends in profitable years.

Why do we need a food co-op?

1. Improve access to healthy, wholesome food

2. Keep food dollars local
From market data and our own survey, we know that thousands of residents in Imperial Beach and surrounding communities are doing some, or all, of their shopping at grocery stores — such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Sprouts — that are miles away from their homes. In our survey of over 400 residents, 73% said they buy most of their food outside of their neighborhood.

3. Provide a store that offers food and products tailored to local needs and preferences

4. Support local farms, producers and small businesses

5. Strengthen our community and local control of our food system

Will the food be expensive?

SunCoast plans to offer quality food at reasonable prices. In addition, like many co-ops, we plan to have a Healthy Staples program that will offer a variety of commonly used foods at, or near, cost to make each shopping trip as affordable as possible. Although some of the wholesome and healthy food sold at the co-op may cost a little more than highly processed or factory-farmed food, those costs can be offset by better health and fewer miles driven to shop out-of-town.

When & where will the store be opening?

The opening date depends on how quickly we sign up owners. The preliminary timeline below shows some of the steps needed to identify a location and open the store. At 250 owners, the market assessment will help determine the best size for the store and possible locations; at 300 owners, we will conduct a feasibility study and develop the business plan; at 500 owners, we will begin site selection; at 600 owners, we will launch an owner loan campaign; at 700 owners, we will begin the search for a general manager; at 800 owners, we will secure a location; and around 1000 owners, we will open the store!

How can I help?

The effort to build SunCoast is “by the people, for the people” and we need lots of people power to open a community-owned store. In addition to becoming an owner, there are many ways to get involved. We need help with community outreach, communications, fundraising, planning, committees, events, house parties and more. If you would like to help, please contact us at info@suncoastmarket.coop or (619) 869-7040.

Where does suncoast get all the money it needs to open?

There are several ways that food co-ops finance the opening of a community-owned store. These include:

  1. Owner Equity– the money that owners pay for Ownership Shares
  2. Owner Loans– loans given by owners to the co-op with competitive interest rates
  3. Bank Loans– traditional bank loans
  4. Other funding– through foundations, community programs, grants, or other sources
Wouldn’t it be better to wait until the store is open to become an owner?

SunCoast is a community-owned and built grocery store. In order for it to reflect the wishes of the community, we need owners speaking up as early in the process as possible. While you can become an owner at any time, wouldn’t you like to have a say in how it all gets built? Plus, the faster we reach our owner goals, the sooner we can open the doors to our amazing store. We need the financial foundation of our owners to move forward. Waiting just makes it take longer.

What happens if suncoast doesn’t get enough owners?

Although anything is possible, we are well into our growing stage that opening a physical store is the plan. We were very careful about evaluation and planning prior to taking any owners so that we could move forward with confidence. SunCoast also utilizes professionals throughout the process. Should something unforeseen happen and the ownership decides that it doesn’t want to open a store or it is no longer feasible, any remaining funds will be redistributed back to the owners. Again, this is highly unlikely at this stage as we have made remarkable progress but any investment comes with some risk.

Are owners responsible for any loans SunCoast takes to build the store?

SunCoast operates like any business when it comes to loan repayment. Owners will not be responsible for any possible loan repayments.

IF I BUY EXTRA SHARES WILL I EARN MORE PATRONAGE DIVIDENDS?

Purchasing extra shares will contribute to the store opening sooner but will not result in extra votes or patronage refunds (also known as refunds or rebates or dividends). Patronage refunds are paid based on how much you shop. The more you spend, the more you can earn. The Sporting Goods store REI is also a consumer cooperative that pays patronage refunds to customers.

is suncoast a non-profit?

No, it is a for-profit business that operates as a Cooperative. This type of business makes a profit but returns a portion back to its Owners as a patronage refund. Contributions to SunCoast are not tax deductible. SunCoast’s goal however is not to earn profits for its owners, rather the purpose is to serve its owners and the community. Earning a profit will be important in achieving our mission and vision statement as well as financing any future growth.

What makes a food co-op different than a traditional grocery store?

Food co-ops are owned by the community so the owners have a strong say in what is carried in the store. Prices are kept as low as possible since there are no investors or outsiders to pay. They also focus on education and supporting the local farmers and artisans so you will get a strong “local feel” when you shop. Co-ops are notorious for giving back more money to the community and paying better wages than traditional grocery store. They also offer more organic and natural products. Food co-ops are amazing community hubs with lots of action. If you want to see a food co-op in action, visit Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market (psst…they’ve been our mentors).

Why do we think local and organic foods are important?