The ‘bank of choice’ for Austin’s Wheatsville Food Co-op
NCB helps the Texas capital’s “Best Neighborhood Grocery” expand and thrive.
“We’ve worked with National Cooperative Bank (NCB) for decades,” says Dan Gillotte, general manager for Wheatsville Food Co-op [http://www.wheatsville.coop], a full-service, natural foods cooperative grocery store that has served the central Austin community since 1976.
Wheatsville was one of NCB’s first customers, with a relationship dating back to the 1980s. In fact, NCB provided the loan that helped the co-op expand to its first new store front.
“In 2007, when it was time to seek a loan for a renovation project, NCB was our bank of choice for a few reasons: our long relationship, their special understanding of co-op businesses, and much positive feedback from other food co-ops and experts in the co-op world,” Gillotte says. “I knew NCB would be the right lender for us.”
As a partner in helping food co-ops expand and compete in the marketplace, NCB provided the co-op with a $2.4 million term loan to renovate and expand Wheatsville’s existing store on Guadalupe Street. With the loan proceeds, Wheatsville expanded its the store size by nearly 10 percent, to 11,500 square feet. The co-op also improved the store’s lighting, increased its parking lot capacity, extended its food sections and added a seating area for customers.
“That renovation, finished in 2009, revolutionized our co-op greatly, strengthening our financial position as well as our ability to serve our community better,” says Gillotte.
In 2014, NCB once again had the opportunity to work with Wheatsville. The bank originated at $4.7 million loan, which enabled the co-op to refinance existing debt and monies to open a second store in South Austin at 4001 South Lamar.
“NCB’s deepening commitment to us through funding our second store further allowed us to amplify the positive impact we were having, more than doubling our positive impact,” Gillotte adds. “We added grocery sales to our co-op economy as well as 100 good co-op jobs, and we doubled our donations to community non-profits, thanks to our NCB funding.”
As the only food cooperative in Texas, Wheatsville has more than 18,000 invested owners who participate democratically and financially in the co-op’s operations. Because Wheatsville is a co-op, its mission is to conduct business in a manner that most benefits its members and community. As a result, it was voted “Best Neighborhood Grocery” by the Austin Chronicle’s Readers Poll for seven years in a row, from 2007-2013.