A North Carolina food co-op boosts its size, sales and food offerings, thanks to NCB.
North Carolina-based Weaver Street Market is a worker- and consumer-owned cooperative that sells natural and organic food with a focus on local and fair-trade products. Founded in 1988, Weaver Street operates three store locations in North Carolina. Its 18,000 consumer households and 200 employee/owners support the co-op’s mission to make healthy eating accessible, tasty and fun. Weaver Street is also committed to driving the growth of local and sustainable foods.
In addition, the company owns and operates a Food House that gives the co-op the capability to offer products that no other store can provide: freshly made items with high-quality ingredients that are delivered twice daily to each of the three stores.
In 2008, Weaver Street was part of a New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) transaction to help it acquire and build out a retail store specializing in natural and organic foods in Hillsborough, N.C. The business also needed financing to improve its food preparation warehouse. National Cooperative Bank (NCB) provided a direct loan for $4.9 million with the NMTC transaction, utilizing a USDA guarantee.
The influx of funds helped Weaver Street increase its sales and create a more reliable source of prepared foods, says Lonnie Lempert, Weaver Street’s finance manager.
In 2015, Weaver Street again turned to NCB, this time for a $500,000 line of credit for working capital. The refinancing, Lempert notes, resulted in lower interest rates and additional funds availability for Weaver Street. Today, NCB remains the food co-op’s primary bank for treasury management services.
“NCB has been a valued business partner for many years,” Lempert adds. “NCB was instrumental in getting the New Markets loan for us seven years ago, which financed a needed expansion. When we were ready for a re-financing, we contacted NCB and another lender. NCB was responsive, highly informative and produced a competitive quote. Working with other cooperatives is a goal of Weaver Street, and it has worked well for us with NCB financing.”