Co-op Consultant Ben Sandel on the Past, Present and Future of Food Co-ops

An Interview with GEO's Jim Johnson

Ben Sandel has over 25 years of sales, service and management experience in technology and retail business, and is enthusiastic about working with organizations that benefit local communities. He thinks gathering places that offer a “third place” away from home and work can be central to democracy and neighborhood vitality. “That third place concept really resonates with me,” Ben said.

That’s why he has been an active member of consumer co-ops wherever he has lived, and was instrumental in organizing the Harrisonburg community to open the Friendly City Food Co-op in 2011. Ben led the board of directors from the co-op’s inception to its opening, through incorporation, raising $1.5 million in financing, gaining over 1,200 members and hiring a general manager. Ben is currently working with startups and established co-ops on governance as well as capitalization and financing for their projects.

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