The Columbus Food Co-op Board of Directors met in a special meeting on Monday, September 17, 2018, to review the results of a survey of Co-op owners and make a decision on the future direction of the Co-op.
Throughout August and early September, the Board had conducted a series of open meetings to discuss the results of the recent capital campaign, the current financial status of the Co-op and the options for going forward. All Co-op owners were invited to attend.
Based on our current financial situation, the Board had identified two options:
1. Move forward to open a smaller, lower cost store.
2. Go out of business.
All Co-op owners were invited to participate in a survey to provide their input on these options. Owners were also asked to indicate a level of financial commitment they could make toward a new store. Other questions on the survey asked about owners’ willingness to provide volunteer labor and which of the seven Co-op principles was most meaningful to them. The full survey can be seen at www.columbusmarket.coop/futuredirection .
Jon Bachmeyer presented a summary of the survey results. An abbreviated version of the results is enclosed below. The full report is posted here.
289 surveys were completed, representing approximately 25% of all Co-op owners.
186 respondents (67%) indicated a preference for the smaller / cheaper store.
93 respondents (33%) indicated a preference for going out of business.
67 respondents (23%) offered a total of $65,340 in financial commitment.
32 respondents (11%) indicated they were unsure about what, if any, financial contribution they could make.
97 respondents (33%) said they would not make a financial commitment.
The Board discussed the financial estimates for the smaller store.
Revenue for a 3,000 square foot store was estimated at $1.2M to $1.6M in the first year of operation. We estimated that the store would operate at a loss for several years.
Startup costs were estimated to be approximately $585,000. Startup funds were estimated at approximately $220,000 cash, current pledges and other funds. This left a shortfall of about $365,000. The Board had previously decided that another capital campaign would not be successful. Several other options for funding were discussed, but none appeared sufficient to cover the shortfall.
After lengthy discussion, the Board voted 5 – 4 to close down the Co-op. Work will now begin to seek the appropriate legal guidance on how to proceed.
As additional information comes available, it will be published on the Co-op web site, the Co-op Facebook page and via email.
The Board wishes to thank all the owners who participated in the survey and attended the meetings.