A few months ago, I started a buying club (Honey Bee Co-op) on Facebook for organic, non-toxic, responsibly produced, eco-friendly, handmade items. Very quickly it grew to over 400 members. Clearly I was onto something. The group has started to level off in numbers, but the growth of the group’s purchasing power and the desire to break away from traditional buying habits hasn’t stopped or slowed down. It’s actually taken on a lot of steam and has spread into almost every area of purchasing I do for my family.
It started off with me wanting to share the cost of shipping for a few companies and getting the group discount for our cod liver oil. Now, I’m buying almost all our food, pantry items, herbs, and household goods through the buying club. When I started the group, I called it a co-op without truly understanding what that word meant. In essence, it is a buying club. In the future, I dream of it becoming a true co-op.
I started Honey Bee Market website as a way for the buying club members to purchase some of the awesome products I found (and save on shipping) from the vendors weren’t willing to work with co-op groups. As I learn more about the retail world, I understand some of their hesitation. Facebook co-ops for the most part, get the prices for close to wholesale and can unknowingly devalue the product in the market. They also make it difficult for actual retailers to make a living since the groups are getting items for wholesale and it drives prices below what the retailer can compete with. Most of the co-op groups I’ve come across buy overseas anyway, but stone-walling from reputable companies may be the reason, other than China’s much lower prices. I have a very strict policy that I will not buy from any overseas company or offer anything to the group I wouldn’t buy for my family.
With all this in mind, I’ve come up with a solution. I have the retail website where I’ll sell items I feel good about- safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly, organic (if possible), local (whenever possible), and handmade. I’m partnering with a few Working At Home Moms (WAHM) to use my shop as a platform to sell their goodies (like The Pharmacist’s Wife and Chewee Beads). I’ll continue to offer low prices, but because of the agreements I’ve made with the vendors, I have to list things on the website for full retail. If you are a member of the buying club, or a reader of my blog, you may come across some discount codes to make the stuff I carry affordable. I offer local pick up for San Diego residents which can save you even more money on shipping.
I’ll continue to manage the buying club for vendors who want to work with co-ops (Mountain Rose Herbs, Frontier Wholesale, Green Pastures, Tropical Traditions, Wilderness Family Naturals, and more!) and have a more food/household items theme- cleaning products, pantry items, bulk herbs & spices as well as branching into local produce, dairy and meat.
I’m planning on having a huge open house party mid-November to show off some of the awesome products on the website as well as have a chance to answer questions, introduce some new goodies, eat delicious food, and commune with one another. Because truly, that is what Honey Bee Co-op has turned into- a community.
I am loving the direction we’re taking and if you’re local, come join us! Even if you’re not local, you will still probably save more than what you’re paying now even with added shipping. I’d also ask that if you’re looking to buy something online, come visit Honey Bee Market first and make sure I don’t carry it.
I’m happy to try and match prices and shipping is very reasonable. I’ll refund the difference if actual shipping is more than $2 higher than the estimate. I’m also open to suggestions if you don’t see what you’re looking for and it lines up with my shop’s values. I’ll be reviewing products and asking for member/customer testimonials on the shop’s blog and try to keep this one (Together We Are Home) a personal site, but don’t be surprised if it sits unattended to for months! Amanda over at The Darling Monsters has agreed to be my guinea pig for some stuff so stay tuned!
Thanks for your support! You are truly making my dreams come true in so many ways.