August 23, 2012

Competitors or Partners? Why Working Together Makes More Good

4 minute read, in Culture / Social Networking


We don’t brag often. But I’m feeling pretty chuffed so please allow me the liberty.

Before Hypenotic came along, Fiesta Farms didn’t have a website—as in none at all. One day when I was checking out my groceries I asked the lovely cashier to please page Mr. Virgona (the owner). He came down, we talked and the rest is history.

We’re really proud of the website and the amazing work Ivy Knight, Sarah Battersby and Andrea Chiu do every day to bring the website and social media platforms to life with incredible content.

But that’s a different story. I’m not here to brag about the website.

I want to share the joys of making amazing stuff happen offline.

In the strategy phase of our work we defined a nine point platform that I won’t bore you with here. What I will tell you is that core to that strategy is “sup­port­ing entrepreneurs because evo­lu­tion and inno­va­tion are as impor­tant as his­tory and culture.”

A couple weeks back we co-hosted an event with entrepreneurs that we’re particularly proud to be linking arms with. We brought Fiesta Farms together with the The West End Food Coop to host a group of twenty people for an awesome evening of Tomato Canning.  The event was dubbed Tomatofest, and it was a huge smashing success on many fronts.

The best part was that these two partners came together to make it happen. The West End Food Coop provided the incredible canning expertise honed through their experience running the Community Cannery. Fiesta Farms provided space under the canopy of the garden centre and provided funding for equipment and sponsorship to make the event happen. They also provided loads of incredibly delicious snacks to keep the troops energized throughout the long tomato sauce making process.

On one level you could consider these two competitors.

After all  the West End Food Coop’s Food Hub is set to open in a couple of months and it will be a grocery store that is (according to googlemaps) only 4.2 kms or 9 minutes drive from Fiesta Farms’ store. Like Fiesta Farms, the West End Food Coop’s Food Hub/store will feature lots of fresh, local food. On the surface, two grocery stores serving the same general neighbourhood.

Of course there are big differences between the two (Fiesta is a private business, West End Food Coop is a Cooperative) but there are some key similarities on a values level.

So then the question arises: Why should two organizations (who could be considered competitors) work together?

Glad you asked. Here’s why:

  • They bring different things to the table. Fiesta had the physical space and the financial resources to make an event like this possible. Fiesta’s resources helped the Coop buy some of the canning equipment they need to do canning events in the future. West End Food Coop has killer canning expertise and knowledge. They don’t have space yet (but they will really, really soon).
  • They can help each other. It’s wrong-minded to think that there’s a finite number of people out there who want to shop for good food and they’ll either shop at Fiesta Farms or at the West End Food Coop. With more partners like these working together, more people will crave good food and be able to access it. Together, they grow the good food movement which will mean more good food for everyone. That has benefits beyond just these two partners like local farmers, food processors, etc.
  • Their communities of interest overlap. If Fiesta’s customers don’t know about the West End Food Coop, well, they should. And they should also buy bonds to make the Coop a reality. There was a table set up at the canning event just for that purpose. On the other hand, if the people committed to the West End Food Coop’s vision want to make their garden lush or need some grocery staples they can’t find at the Coop, they should know about Fiesta Farms. It turns out that the people who came out to the event (which sold out in 2 days) heard about it both through Fiesta Farms’ and West End Food Coops’ channels. In short, these two groups should be better acquainted.

If this all sounds a bit academic the event itself was anything but. It was a joyful mashup of awesome people making something wonderful happen. And they all walked away with jars of Tomato Sauce and a sense that these two organizations know how to play nicely together.

To get a taste of what went down that night check out the slideshow, and stay tuned for more news about all that’s happening on the Fiesta Farms and West End Food Coop Fronts.

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