Announcing Our General Manager

December 1, 2023

To our valued owners and community, the SunCoast Market Co-op Board of Directors and General Manager Search Committee are delighted to announce that we have hired Doug Zilm as our General Manager


Doug has been working in grocery co-ops since 2002 when he was hired as a stocker at Ocean Beach People’s Food Co-op. Since then he has had many roles, including OB People’s Board Member, IT Manager, Point of Sales Manager, Purchasing Team Lead, Consultant, back up General Manager, and General Manager throughout different co-ops in California, New Mexico, and Iowa.

As General Manager at Silver City Food Co-op in New Mexico, Doug oversaw a staff of 25 people, providing healthy and local food options throughout the county. He has also collaborated with non-profits like San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project and the SW New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce and has been invited into communities to speak about local food systems and co-ops. Doug has been working at New Pioneer Food Co-op in Iowa City, IA since 2018, a $24M annual revenue, 3-store co-op. He and his family are thrilled to be moving back to San Diego to help us open our store on strong footing.

During the General Manager selection process, board and committee members were impressed with his passion for the cooperative model and local food systems, his managerial perspective of raising competent leaders, and his belief that the co-op and community are one. He is committed to making SunCoast not just an important place to work, but a fun place to be. Doug is also skilled at working with local farmers and producers, with a goal of finding ways that the co-op can support growth for all. He believes that a collaborative approach makes this possible.


“We are happy to have found not just an experienced general manager but someone with a true heart for community and the local food system.”



The General Manager is a critical leader in any grocery co-op. Beginning in January 2023, on the advice of national consultants and through many discussions with other cooperatives, we created a list of skills we needed to see in our future GM. We talked with other start up co-ops about their lessons learned and what they thought we should prioritize in our search. We assembled a national team of people with HR, cooperative, and grocery store experience to help us find the right fit for SunCoast. Let’s be honest…

We were looking for a unicorn.

Managing a co-op isn’t like managing a traditional store that has corporate backing. Our General Manager must act as CEO and day to day manager of the store and this isn’t a small task, requiring experience, hard work and commitment. The right GM for a cooperative has not just grocery experience, but a proven track record with store design, complex budgets, employee management, vendor relations, cooperative leadership, and community engagement. This isn’t easy to find in a small pool of experienced cooperative GMs but we were confident we wouldn’t have to compromise.

We wanted a leader who could give sound guidance as we make important decisions on how to open our doors. Someone who can meet with owners and community leaders and listen to their needs and develop a plan for action. We needed a person who could understand our diverse and tight-knit community, approaching each decision from complex angles.

“Co-ops are more than a store, they are a movement to empower neighborhoods to find solutions to the loss of grocery stores and abundance of fast food options. They focus on wellness and well-being from the planting of a seed to the preparation of a family dinner.”

Doug will work hard for SunCoast Market Co-op and our community, using his cooperative experience and understanding of local food systems to open the doors to something great. His creativity, knowledge, and evidence of hard work and dedication will mean we have something truly special in Imperial Beach. Doug’s vision for his staff will lead him to seek out effective team players, ready to learn and grow in our store. A co-op’s employees are one of its most essential partners, acting as liaisons between local growers and producers, SunCoast Market, and the community. He will be developing a team of people that you will get to know on a personal level as shoppers in our store.

And, because we have secured startup grant funding for this position, Doug can begin work immediately, helping to make critical decisions on store design, equipment purchases, check-out systems, food programming, vendor selection, and hiring processes. He will play an essential role in our ongoing fundraising as well.

Please join us in congratulating Doug on his new role!

We’d like to thank everyone who served on our hiring committee. This was a big ask, requiring significant time, training, and patience and the job was certainly well done!

Here’s to an exciting future for SunCoast Market Co-op,
Your Board of Directors

November Updates

November 16, 2023

So, how’s it going? Pretty darn well!

  • We’ve found our general manager and will be making a formal announcement shortly!
  • We are nearing 1200 owners!
  • We hosted multiple events in October to continue engaging with our community
  • Our farmers market continues to be successful and even grow a bit, supporting the launch of several local small businesses in the past year
  • We’ve launched a wide-scale survey to gauge the needs of our South Bay shoppers. Complete it today!
  • After receiving targeted grant funding, we’ve hired a PR firm to support our fundraising and outreach
  • With additional targeted grant funding, we’ve been working with a branding firm to design our store logo, signage, and “vibe” using all the feedback you’ve provided over the last 2 years. 
  • We will have a website redesign shortly (we apologize for recent website issues)
  • We recently were guests on a local podcast (in English) and news story (en Espanol). Look for us Friday morning at 6:30 a.m. on KUSI!
  • We are still waiting on our electrical evaluation from SDGE. Construction cannot begin until this is complete. 
  • We have $1M in pending grant applications
  • We are feeling confident that we will meet our fundraising goal and be able to proceed with construction early next year

October Updates

October 1, 2023

Annual Meeting Recap

August 9, 2023

Thank you to everyone who attended our Annual Meeting on Monday, August 7th. It was a pleasure to spend time with owners and keep you informed and engaged in what’s ahead. We encourage you to attend our monthly meetings, every 4th Monday from 6-7:00 p.m. (our next meeting is September 25th).


Annual Meeting Recap

Since we signed our lease in October 2022, we’ve been extremely busy with multiple, simultaneous tasks required to keep us on track. The planning and permitting stage is exciting, a bit stressful, and full of uncertainties.

Here is what we have been up to:

  • Selected our store designer and architect

  • Along with the store designer, we’ve developed and refined our store floor plan

  • Submitted plans and permits

  • Currently selecting our general contractor

  • Refining our equipment list

  • Working with SDGE (this is a long process)

  • Working with a consultant to develop our grab and go and deli menu

  • Started our General Manager search and interviews

  • Raised $1.8 M 

  • 1095 owners!


Our Fundraising Goal Has Changed

We recently received unexpectedly high bids, indicating that our construction and labor costs significantly increased and this was understandably cause for concern. It may have impacted our feasibility to continue with our lease and the Board took time to further investigate and meet with our advisors. Although our costs are much higher, we carved items from our budget to bring us back to a feasible place. This does mean changes to our plans and that we are pressed when it comes to fundraising. Our projected costs are now $4.2M. We’ve raised $1.8M so far.

We must raise $1.6M by this fall in order to maintain our leased space. 

Failure to reach this goal means we could lose our current lease and need to look for new locations, which could take years. Because grants have timelines and are often tied to the location, this may mean we lose some of our current funding sources. As frustrating as this is, this is the nature of the business. Although many co-ops go through more than one lease before opening, we are anticipating success but planning contingencies.

Our fundraising plan:

To achieve our fall $1.6M goal, we will continue applying for grants and aggressively seek donations and sponsorships (see image below). If we achieve the goal, this won’t be the end of our fundraising as we will have an additional $800,000 to raise to fund upcoming costs. The good news is that once open, the business is self-funded. As a co-op, it’s up to all of us to work together to open the doors.

Fund-A-Need Community Investment Campaign

Equipment costs make up a large percentage of our budget at an estimated $750,000. We are asking community members to chip in to help us cover costs, with a goal of raising $100,000 toward expenses. You can make a tax-deductible donation through our fiscal sponsor, the SunCoast Community Fund at San Diego Roots.

Donate Now

What’s next?

There are many critical steps on our journey to open our doors including:

  • Continue to examine ways to reduce construction and operation costs

  • Reach our 1400 owner goal

  • Increase our outreach to our Spanish speaking community members

  • Due to rising construction and labor costs, it is critical that we meet our fundraising goals and plan for increased costs. If we are not able to meet these goals, we risk losing our site and will need to re-start our location search.

  • The process to start construction is stalled due to an SDGE delay however it is providing us with more time to fundraise. Grocery store energy needs are high and need to be well planned. There have been fees to hold the space during this process, however we have not started paying rent.

How you can help:

  1. Continue to refer new owners to SunCoast to help us reach our 1400 owner goal.

  2. We are seeking introductions with individual, business, or philanthropic donors. If you are able to make a connection, please reach out to us quickly.

  3. We will be hiring a general contractor. If you own a business that could help during our construction phase, please reach out to us right away.

  4. We need volunteers to help with outreach events. We have an immediate need for additional Spanish speaking volunteers.