Dear Co-Op Owners, Shoppers and Community Members,
It has been 3 months since our last communication on the state of the Co-Op. I am writing to share an update on the positive changes we’ve made recently, and to inform you of an urgent operational issue that requires the attention of all owners, shoppers and community members.
Since the beginning of the year, we have successfully completed Phase One of our transition with the reduction of the grocery aisles and the addition of the “community” space in the front of the store. Phase Two is underway with enhancements to the fresh & prepared foods and the Specialty/Cheese areas. These are initial steps, and there is more to come. To succeed in this competitive marketplace, the Co-Op must be ready to evolve and also embrace what makes it unique. This means:
- Celebrating the benefits of the local cooperative model: 57% of the goods purchased by the Co-Op support local vendors within 100 miles (no other area grocer can claim this)
- Hosting more food-related events that bring our community together
- Offering products that reflect our values (high-quality, fresh and local) and the evolving wants of our shoppers. This includes beer & wine which they overwhelmingly want.
Even with this progress, the financial position of the Co-Op remains tenuous. Sales have declined by 3% per year for the past 5 years, and are off $70K in 2019 vs. 2018. In addition to these ongoing challenges, an operational issue requiring immediate attention has arisen. The concrete slab underneath the main dairy cooler and freezer storage has caused the floor to crack, which is forcing us to replace the coolers and surrounding concrete as soon as possible. To properly resolve and correct this condition will cost us in excess of $60,000. We were hopeful that insurance would cover some or all of the cost, but unfortunately that is not the case. While we would much rather raise capital for more visible store improvements, such as our community gathering space, the store layout, and a beer/wine license, we must prioritize the freezer repair before tackling other items.
Without the structure or the financing of a big corporation, we are dependent on the owners and the community in times of need. This is one of those times. The Co-Op cannot operate without a freezer, and our current capital position is not sufficient to fund the necessary repairs. We are a community-owned market, and are now asking our owners and our community members to pull us through this major repair.
We have set a goal of raising $80K (about $50 per active owner) by October 2019. There are two ways you can contribute:
- Donate: To make a donation, please go online to swarthmore.coop/donate, or bring a check to the store made out to Consumers Cooperative Association of Swarthmore, Inc.
- Increase your equity: to increase your equity, please check in with Kira at the store to let her know. She will make sure the correct paperwork is complete
And as always, the most important contribution you can make is to shop with us frequently and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. Nowhere else can you find the breadth of local, unique, high-quality products that we offer. This is our store, let’s work together to secure its future.
Thanks and always in cooperation,
Mike Litka, Your General Manager