GreenTree Cooperative creates collective success as a community-owned small business.
Located in Mt. Pleasant, GreenTree Cooperative is a community-owned grocery store that started in 1970 by a group of families that wanted to create and secure access to whole, fresh foods. By tapping into the services and support available through the Small Business Development Center over the years, by attending trainings and having one on one consultations, GreenTree Cooperative has grown from an idea to a reality since it began 41 years ago.
Today, GreenTree Cooperative is in the middle of a large relocation, having received key support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation through both financial and technical support, as the city of Mt. Pleasant is also a certified Redevelopment Ready Community. As a result of its certification, the city is able to go above and beyond statutory requirements to secure and attract investments like these. With this new build, GreenTree Cooperative will be anchor tenants in a mixed-use development downtown that will mark its biggest new development in 40 years.
What makes this business unique, however, is its ability to leverage the community as a key resource to its success. Through crowdfunding efforts, allowing the community to share a collective responsibility for the small business by raising funds through grassroots efforts. GreenTree Cooperative sells investment certificates, which in turn allows it to put money toward its expansion, while investors get an annual dividend payout -- along with the ability to benefit from the added community-value of a full-service natural food grocery store. “So far, we have raised $600,000,” Sarah Christensen, general manager, stated, noting the total project cost is at $3.2 million with additional support being sourced from the community members themselves.
By listening to community members and identifying methods for serving their needs and wants, GreenTree Cooperative was able to gain the support of its community to bring its idea for an accessible, local fresh food grocery store to life. “Being a community-owned business, we respond to the needs and wants of the community,” Christensen said.
GreenTree Cooperative also prioritizes a service mindset and a service-oriented culture. Sarah mentioned, “When we do our customer service training for our employees, we talk not just about great service for the customers but also the staff, vendors, and farmers.” Its goal is to create a friendly and convivial space throughout the organization. Additionally, to keep up with the community's needs, this small business is always looking for ways to improve, whether it be efficiency, operational improvements, or staff professional development.
To be a Michigan Celebrates Small Business Awardee, GreenTree Cooperative has been in disbelief that it is one of 50 businesses recognized. It is truly honored and excited to celebrate this success.
Learn more about how the MEDC helps Michigan small businesses by visiting www.michiganbusiness.org/pure-partnership/