August 1, 2005, Minneapolis, MN – Jim Someck, Chairman of the Board of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association (INFRA), announced today the upcoming incorporation of INFRA as a 308B Cooperative in Minnesota. Founders of the group, including Jimbo’s…Naturally! in San Diego, CA, Earth Fare in Ashville, NC, New Frontiers in Solvang, CA, and New Leaf Community Markets in Santa Cruz, CA, have been collaborating for the past year to form a strong business organization that will provide purchasing, marketing and educational services to independent natural product retailers who may not receive such services through other industry organizations. Current membership includes retailers ranging in annual sales volume from $600,000 to over $40M annually. Membership is expected to grow rapidly over the next six months.
“The founding of INFRA is based in the desire to have an inclusive organization that is retail owned and operated. Our vision is to strengthen the independent natural food retailers’ position and voice in the industry by leveraging our collective knowledge and experience,” said Jim Someck, CEO and owner of Jimbo’s. “In short, we want to remain a viable force in the industry and help shape its future.”
A cooperative structure was chosen to provide both small and large retailers an equal voice in organizational affairs, according to Corinne Shindelar, Development CEO of INFRA, and 25 year natural food retail veteran. “A cooperative structure offers a retail driven organization, with one member one vote regardless of size and allows for a patronage based dividend return to members. There’s a higher likelihood of a return on our members’ investment when more of the members take advantage of the services. It also sets an excellent foundation for collaboration and success between retailers.”
“This group is exactly what we need. Working together, sharing ideas, successes, and failures is our key to success. We know that independents can do more than just survive, we can thrive and this is best done together,” commented Dan Chapman, owner of Sunrise Natural Foods. Some of the services in development are web based community rooms, peer support groups for best practices, education programs, and alignment of purchasing activities where feasible.
Independent retailers are invited to meet current members during Expo East in Washington DC on Friday September 16, 4:30 – 6:30 and Saturday September 17, 10:30 – 12:30, in a location at the convention center to be announced. These sessions will include detailed explanation of the cooperative and a question and answer exchange. For more information, contact INFRA at 612-724-1530 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Corinne Shindelar, CEO