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Dig Imperial Beach

A Store in I.B. That’s Even Better Than Trader Joe’s

Apr 26, 2018 08:36PM ● By Paul Spear
A Store in I.B. That’s Even Better Than Trader Joe’s!

Tuesday morning I attended Coffee with the Co-op at the Red House Kitchen with about 13
investors or interested investors to hear the latest plans with the Suncoast Market Co-op. The
meeting was to inform potential owners about what is happening with the effort to open South Bay’s first food cooperative and to answer questions for current owners. The attendance seemed close to about 50/50 between those that have invested already and those that were interested in learning more. 

One of the things I was really impressed with besides their growth in owner-members, or
shareholders, since I first wrote about them, 80 and 150 respectively, was the excellent quality of information being shared at this meeting. With close to a doubling of owner members in 4 months, the effort is picking up steam, but the SunCoast Board wants to increase the pace so that they can get the store open as soon as possible. Community investment is important for convincing lenders to invest in the co-op. If the community decided to get behind this project and talked about half as much as they spend talking about bringing a Trader Joe's and/or Sprouts to Imperial Beach, this is obtainable much sooner than I had ever imagined.

As Board President, Kim Frink, explained, “Lots of locals want a Trader Joe’s, but the company has made it clear that they are not going to build a store in I.B. or our neighboring communities. But with a food co-op, we can create a store that’s even better than Trader Joe’s because it will be customized to meet the needs of our owners. The owners will have a say in what kinds of products they want and product standards. I have visited co-ops all over the country and each one is unique to their community. The sooner we can get owners signed-up, the sooner we can all have the store we want and deserve.”

On top of being a more attractive option for health-minded and/or earth-friendly consumers,
SunCoast will have competitive pricing, special discounts to make healthy food staples affordable for everyone and have a much greater selection of organic and local products than traditional grocery stores. In 1971, San Diego County’s only food co-op, Ocean Beach People & Organic Food Market, opened as a small neighborhood buying club. Today, the Co-op has 13,000 owners and does over $14 million a year in sales, serving Ocean Beach and the surrounding communities, as a healthy, earth-friendly alternative to shopping in your average grocery store. SunCoast Market Co-op already has 150 owners and plans to be ready to open when they reach approximately 1,000 owners with a well thought out plan that is laid out in steps as investor levels are reached. 

An owner is a household or business that has purchased $200 in shares (two shares at $100 each) or has paid $50 with an agreement to pay $50 quarterly until the $200 is reached. Owners can purchase up to 10 shares if they want to help the store open sooner, but extra shares do not result in additional dividends or votes. Owners can also earn patronage dividends/rebates in profitable years which will be distributed based on how much each owner spent during the year. Owner shares are one part of the financing needed, and additional funds will be raised through owner loans, bank/credit union loans, community development funding, and grants.

An online application more information is available at or by
contacting SunCoast at or (619) 869-7040.

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Paul Spear, Publisher, and Editor of Dig Imperial Beach 


South Bay Urgent Care




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