Grocery Co-op Study Synopsis

Synopsis of the Dakota Worldwide Market Study “Poolesville, Maryland Grocery CO-OP Market Analysis Report, April 2023”

  • The study is a market analysis designed to show the potential sales volume and competitive position of a possible Co-op grocery store in Poolesville.  It is not intended to assess the financials for a store, how much it would cost to get it up and running, and typical operational costs for such a store.  Its purpose is to show the viability of a Co-op food store in Poolesville, its likelihood of success.  A second study focused on the financials of the store is required to develop information on how to establish, manage and operate the store if the decision is made to go forward with the project.
  • The study’s findings demonstrate that a Co-op food store would have a good probability of success in serving Poolesville and a large area around it in the Western County with the right management, business model and financial support.
  • Co-op grocery stores differ from typical commercial stores in that they are owned by people in their community usually through paid memberships.  Unlike typical commercial food stores, they tend to be much more engaged with local community organizations, local farmers, and health-oriented groups.  
  • The study finds that the success of the store will depend on a range of factors, most crucially location, how good the store management is, the retail strategy of the store, and customer loyalty and satisfaction.   The study is built around a store “format” offering affordable healthy/organic food staples with an emphasis on perishable departments – produce, meat, deli and bakery. Prepared foods/bistro sections and locally sourced products are incorporated in the mix as well.  Assuming the decision is made to go ahead with the project, developing more detailed data on things like the best product mix to serve our residents and to ensure the store operates successfully will need to be developed.
  • The study establishes a “trade area” which is the area around Poolesville where residents are most likely to be attracted to the new Co-op.   Almost 7000 people live in this area and collectively they spend more than $500,000 each week on groceries.
  • The study finds that four stores currently attract about three quarters of the shopping dollars from the residents in the Trade Area – Harris Teeter in Darnstown, Safeway in Quince Orchard, Giant in Kentlands, and Whole Foods in Kentlands. Whole Foods takes nearly one quarter of the dollars spent in the four stores with Harris Teeter close behind.  Almost 25 percent of the dollars spent by residents go to other stores beyond these four such as Costco and Sam’s Club among others.  
  • With the right conditions, the analysis shows the store could garner up to a 40 percent plus market share of the more than $500,000 that is spent each week on groceries by residents of the Trade Area.    
  • According to the study, the amount of money generated by the store increases due in part to its size, but the amount of growth is not constant, meaning if you increase the size of the store by ten percent, you won’t see a ten percent growth in return.   Size alone is not the sole or even major determinant of the store’s success.
  • The study examined four locations in town for the store based on key factors such as visibility and accessibility.  It did not assess at all any current or future uses or plans for the properties included or discuss feasibility in terms of things like the Town’s Master Plan.   The properties assessed in the study are:
    1. Northwest Corner of Fisher Ave. & Fyffe Rd. (vacant land parcel proposed for a 65 SF unit housing development near Whalen Commons).
    2. Northwest Corner of Fisher Ave. & Wootton Ave. (vacant land parcel for sale adjacent to the Tractor Supply shopping area).
    3. South Side Fisher Ave. (east of McDonald’s/north of Tractor Supply which would require modifications to parts of the existing strip shopping center).
    4. North Side Wootton Ave. & Hoskinson Rd. (open areas around Dillingham Park).
  • Additional properties (not assessed in the study) that might be worth considering depending in part on how they might affect the success of the store based on the data and research gathered include:
    1. Corner of Norris and Wootton Avenue (adjacent to Poolesville High School).
    2. Current location of the former BB&T Bank on Fisher Avenue.
  • See full Market Study here.