Dear Members, Producers & Customers of Eat Local Eastport Cooperative,
We regret to be closing the store for the winter. The Board did not come to this decision lightly. Tight margins and some decline in sales, has made it impossible to maintain a paid staff. We have been operating with volunteer member-workers for over two years, and these dedicated people have kept our cooperative open, giving amazing amounts of time in very difficult circumstances. After giving this much time most of the volunteers have needed to move on to other things in their lives.
If you see them around town, thank them. They are Liz Weaver, Barb Robb, Anne Hopkins, Susan Weaver as well as others who have worked behind the scenes contributing in small or large ways to keep things going. We have hired paid consultants in attempt to get a handle on exactly what is needed to make the store sustainable. Katie Wilson donated many hours beyond what she billed and we thank her.
Finally, we hired a consultant Christian Arnold to come in and evaluate the situation. Christian has experience in running a store like ours. In those three months, she has brought the books up to date and after observing sales and margins has advised that the cooperative, in its current form, cannot afford to pay staff. Without a sufficient crew of volunteer member-workers the operation is not sustainable and we have, at this time, been unable to locate the much needed member-workers.
We hope to reopen the cooperative in the spring or early summer. We will take the winter to meet with our membership and gather information to see what the future of the Co-op will look like. We know we want the Co-op to provide easy to access, healthy foods to our members and the community. We want to know your ideas about how this might happen in a sustainable way. Over the winter we will be asking for your help! Please talk to us, whether at a formal meeting, or one on one – in person when you see us, or via phone or email. We need your input into what the Co-op can become.
We want to sincerely thank our producers who have been working tirelessly to provide you with organic or locally grown food. Without them we would be hungry and less healthy.
A big thanks goes out to our members and non-member patrons whose business and continued support has brought us this far.
The conversation continues!
Eat Local Eastport Cooperative Board