The Investment Opportunity
We are offering a concrete, local and sustainable way to address the social and economic problems in West Oakland. This is not a donation. This is not a Wall Street investment. This is a real local investment in which residents of California, of diverse economic backgrounds, can buy shares in our company and become Founding Shareholders in our mission to create healthier and more connected community.
This investment is a way to make a positive social impact while earning a financial return. Investors will receive a 3% compounded annual interest rate, paid as a dividend. Investors will also receive an annual store credit equal to 1% of their investment. This offering is limited to residents of California. The investment minimum is $1,000 for unaccredited investors (have less than $1M in net worth) and $5,000 for accredited investors (have more than $1M in net worth). Shareholders can choose to redeem their investment beginning at the end of the seventh (7th) full year of business.
The Problem: An Underserved Community
West Oakland is an inner-city community of 26,000 residents who are predominantly African American and Latino. Although West Oakland residents collectively spend over $58 million a year on groceries, there are no full-service grocery stores in the neighborhood. As a result, 70% of the residents’ grocery spending goes to stores in surrounding cities. But residents (many of whom don’t own a vehicle and rely on public transportation) must travel far to get to distant supermarkets. The inconvenience, time and cost of these shopping trips leads many residents to regularly shop at nearby corner stores that carry mostly processed, poor quality foods sold at high prices.
These limited food choices are contributing to high rates of diet-related chronic disease in West Oakland. Today, forty eight percent of residents are obese or at an unhealthy weight and the community’s diabetes hospitalization rate is three times that of Alameda County. But many residents also understand the connection between diet and health and are increasingly demanding healthier food choices, more knowledge and information, and supportive social settings and services.
Our Solution: A Neighborhood Food Store
People’s Community Market (PCM) is a new business that is emerging from and building on ten years of food enterprise experience and community organizing of its sister nonprofit organization, People’s Grocery, which has operated numerous food projects in West Oakland including the Mobile Market and the Grub Box. PCM will be a full-service neighborhood food store, health resource center and community hub that engages and supports West Oakland families to attain healthier and more socially connected lives.
We will apply our understanding of the local market, as well as our deep engagement with the community, to create a highly targeted business model that makes it easy to buy quality fresh foods at affordable prices in the neighborhood. For example, our store will operate in a smaller retail footprint. This will reduce our development costs and allow us to be at an optimal retail location with high population density, vehicle traffic and accessibility by foot and public transportation. We’ll also stock about 50% of the inventory carried by supermarkets, allowing us to reduce our inventory costs and target the fill-in items that lower-income shoppers often buy at a high rate and in between less frequent, larger shopping trips. Our product mix will be targeted to categories that are least available in the neighborhood: fresh produce, quality meat and seafood, packaged perishable goods and prepared foods made from whole ingredients. We’re working closely with a Community Advisory Council, which is composed of an active group of West Oakland residents, to ensure that our plans reflect the products, services and shopping experience that the community wants.
Our goal is to be “More Than a Grocery Store” by addressing our customers’ desires to be more supported in improving their health, building community and becoming more socially connected. We’ll partner with community and health organizations to offer a variety of education programs, food such as demonstrations and workshops, as well as health services such as screenings. The store will provide a community gathering space through its Front Porch courtyard, which will feature a stage, a kids play area, a deli service window and a venue for events and other social activities.
Read our Offering Memorandum for more about our plans and projections.
Our Leadership Team
We have put together a leadership team that includes people who have worked in the grocery and food service business for decades, who are bringing tremendous expertise to this venture and are committed to its success.
Brahm Ahmadi, CEO: Co-founded People’s Grocery and has 10 years of experience in organizational development, management and food enterprise.
David Guendelman, CFO: Brings years of experience as a CFO and has had a leading role in several early stage equity financings.
Anthony Gilmore, Operations: Has 33 years of experience as a supermarket executive at Safeway and Whole Foods.
Rene Cage, Deli: Has 35 years of experience in the restaurant, deli and food service industry such as Executive Sous Chef at Le Coq Au Vin.
Bill Fujimoto, Produce: Has 40 years of experience as a green grocer and produce buyer and was the store manager at Monterey Market for three decades.
Joni Wong, Grocery: Has 10 years of experience as a grocery buyer and manager including at Common Ground Food Co-op and Trader Joe’s.