Independent Retailer Shared Services Cooperative continued to work with various food businesses (often 7 days a week) to navigate many challenges with respect to food security. We measure our joint successes and collaborations by the number of jobs supported and employees impacted by our work, and increased incomes / decreased expenses / strategic long-term investments as desirable partner outcomes from our projects.
In 2022-2023 several clients’ businesses increased their sales and profits. Additionally, the IRSSC was successful in helping our clients secure grant funding that exceeded $40,000 and over $13 million in financing; we saved one member over $100,000 in transitional costs with respect to selling their business. As in past years, the IRSSC provided well over $30,000 worth of in-kind time, and that is consistent with the past 12 years; we have no debt and are for profit.
In Maine there are 154 independent grocery stores that represent over $304 million in direct economic impact (district one and two). Source: National Grocers Association.
· Refine our services at the Common Market. We will be testing innovative marketing and management concepts.
· Work with EMDC, our advisory team, farmers and processing facilities in central Maine for the purpose of expanding the production and sale of authentic “Real Maine” Meat.
· Work to expand the production and sale of horticultural products in support of the Back-to-School Garden Program.
· Support ReTreeUS fundraising events.
· Continue to Support the Independent Garden Centers with respect to marketing, vendor negotiations, and strategic planning of the IGCME.
· Test innovative marketing concepts and services in support of local producers, grocers, garden centers, and local businesses; the goal is to improve sales for local producers.
· We will continue to amend our Buy Local Loyalty Program Beta test.
· Buy-Local Loyalty Program | Independent Retailers Co-op (independentretailerscoop.com)
Note: LARGE MAJOR US SUPPLIERS HAVE FAR MORE REVENUE/ FUNDING TO HELP MARKET THEIR BRANDS; LOCAL PRODUCERS DO NOT HAVE THESE RESOURCES; TO HELP ADDRESS THIS ISSUE THE IRSSC CREATED THE BUY LOCAL LOYALTY PROGRAM; THE KEY FOR THIS PROGRAM IS THE WILLINGNESS OF OTHER GROCERS AND OTHER FORMS OF BUSINESSES TO ALSO INVEST IN PROMOTING LOCAL PRODUCERS.
Mark A. Sprackland
Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative