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Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 30 posts ] 
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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:54 pm 
This is my first post without John's watchful eye, and I'd like to say how much I will miss him at meetings, on the street, online, at the post office, and in so many spots around town. However you, Moses, choose to continue or not to continue this forum, please know how much it has given to so many of us. It truly has been a forum for the community.

Now to business. Tomorrow is the April Co-op board meeting, and they have been busy. The general manager is out of town, but with the help of a conference call they all managed to meet with a representative from Life Quest to discuss the possible purchase of the building. The location and building could be very good for a new incarnation of the Co-op, but my concern centers on whether or not this purchase can be afforded at this time. In the March issue of the Garbanzo Gazette, the general manager said that we could be looking at buying a new building "maybe in 5 years or more." In a conversation with Betty Mishuk, who works with Co-op finances, she, as well, said that the Co-op could not afford to think about buying a new building for another 5 years. The losses incurred by the Market Café dipped deep into the cash reserve of the Co-op.

The Life Quest building offers parking and space that the current location definitely lacks and stock could be warehoused in the same building as the retail end of the Co-op, but the building would require an investment beyond the purchase price to reconfigure it for retail. The question for me is not whether the building would be a better space, I think that it well could be, but rather can we afford to buy it and rehab it for our purposes. Many businesses have gone under for over-reaching and mismanagement.

If you want to hear what the board has to say about this...unless of course they go to closed session for it...come to the April board meeting, Wednesday, April 18, 4:30 at the Volunteer Center (The Commons). I think there are at least a few questions that need to be asked before this purchase is made.

Sharon


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:06 am 
It seems there is a difference between buying a new building and being able to afford to make the move. It is possible to buy the building but not move the Co-op into it yet. The move and refitting the building to our needs would be very costly. It is my understanding that the freezers now in the old Co-op no longer meet EPA standards. They may be used as long as they are left in place, but they cannot be moved to a new location, so they would need to be replaced with ones that meet the requirements which would be expensive to do.


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:40 am 
My recent post asking membership to give thought to the possibility of moving the Co-op resulted in my being assailed at the April meeting by one board member for my negativity and chastised by another for having exceeded my place for revealing that information to you. I left the meeting after the break heavy with thought.

I don’t really know my “place” as a member of the Co-op or for that matter as a member of the power structure in society and politics in general, and for seventy years I’ve been working on figuring it out, mostly by bumping or slamming into barriers set up to define my “place” by others. I intend to continue to do so.

A few years ago the Co-op management had the idea of opening a café, and a building that seemed suited to that purpose was available even though there was no plan in place for how to develop this café or even a clear vision of what it was to be. Because this was an idea in it’s very early stages, management was not ready to actually open the café but wanted to secure the rental property that was then available. The Co-op, we its shareholders, paid rent on that building for a year without its generating income. A few Co-op Forums and meetings were held there and it may have been used for some storage during that year. Then the Market Café opened, still without a functional business plan, and continued to operate for its brief lifetime without one.

And it lost a lot of money.

The numbers defining this loss vary widely depending on who is doing the accounting, and members had to sign a nondisclosure agreement to see these numbers. In other words, you could look at the books, but you couldn’t reveal them to anyone else, which largely precluded discussing them. Know your place.

Some in power seem to have learned a bit of caution from this experience, and they are talking now in terms of what the Co-op can afford to do. It’s painful to see such a potentially lovely spot for the Co-op’s next incarnation lying possibly outside of our financial reach. And I say “possibly” because this is what needs to be determined. I don’t see this as being negative. It’s being responsible with a business that belongs to many people and that many people depend on. We are being asked to trust the board to assess the situation and make the decision weighing many factors. That’s exactly what boards and management should do. Some board members seem to be doing this. For some of us member/shareholders (many or few depending on who is telling the story) that trust was challenged by events of the past two years, including the handling of the Market Café, employees’ rights, and community relations.

The power of membership lies in our ability to ask questions and demand transparency and accountability while continuing to support the Co-op through active membership...participating however we can in making the Co-op work, whether it’s popping corn, working on events, or serving on one of the board committees. It’s pointless to criticize the board when we don’t show up to hear what they are actually doing. It’s also dangerous to trust any body empowered with making decisions not to become protective of that power. It’s so much easier to make decisions and move forward without the distraction of membership voicing its concerns, some more relevant than others to the decision at hand.

It seems that our absence from board, council, or commission meetings is often read as proof of our absolute trust in the decision making ability of these entities and the management they hire, be it general manager, city manager, or county manager. Does our absence really indicate our endorsement of their actions? We all have things we’d rather be doing than sitting through long, sometimes profoundly boring meetings whether board, council, or commission. It’s difficult to see that many of the issues even affect us at times. But it’s not just about the issues. It’s every bit as much about the process and the power.

Sometimes bearing witness is the only power we have, and sometimes speaking up even out of place is the only power we have.


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 Author: Infodigger
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:26 am 
Thank you for your thoughts here!


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 Author: mimbresgranny
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:57 am 
Yes, a huge thank you SMB for not knowing your "place" and for sharing the activity of the Board with those of us who cannot attend their meetings. That is called transparency. The consideration of a move does concern us all, members and non-members. This store is a vital part of our community. The fact that a Board member was unhappy about your revelation tells me two things. 1- s/he is getting push back from other people s/he knows, and 2- s/he is feeling insecure about this decision. That insecurity seems justified given recent history.

To make an expensive move should be based on only one factor... the business can't afford to stay where it is, either because it has outgrown it's walls or those walls are falling down (like raised lease costs or repairs, etc.) The fact that a "beautiful building" with more parking has become available is not sufficient unless there is a business plan that proves it more than a good idea. The concern about that plan is exacerbated by the recent failure of the Cafe. I recall when I was told the Co-Op was buying the rest of the building behind their location, maybe to open a sandwich function. Was that really the Ya-Da-Ya-Da building? A sandwich bar is far different from a cafe. And then, even with constant patronage, it lost money. That they are not confident enough in their 'numbers' to share them openly creates more concern. Certainly a preliminary discussion is different than developing a plan, so why not be clear?

The most important factor is protecting this valuable resource. Long range planning is always necessary. I still have trust in my peers elected to tackle these issues but every well meaning body can be led astray by good intentions and apparently has already been there. That is why we have open meeting laws. We should not need a FOIA request to make these deliberations public information. A non-disclosure statement is counter to the necessary public discussions. I hope more members fail to know their place.


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 Author: Bruce
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:13 am 
Thanks, Sharon, for keeping this discussion alive and interesting. The Life Quest building is first a great place for Life Quest, and I wish there was some way to save them and their long-term mission. But if the building is really available it could solve a lot of problems for the co-op. I support a dynamic community discussion of whether this could work, but the co-op board should not expect unquestioning support for whatever they propose.

It's possible to imagine a way that purchasing this building could increase revenue long-term and make the co-op more sustainable. It's also possible to imagine it overextending the co-op's finances and put the organization into a spiral of losses. On an issue this important, the co-op board should consider a public members meeting to discuss the financial choices.

Bruce


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 Author: Co-op Member
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 1:49 pm 
Dear Sharon,

I want to thank you for ALL THE TIME AND EFFORT you have put forth in keeping abreast with the challenges our co-op has faced these past two years. Your willingness to get involved, attend board meetings and have open discussions, has taken many, many hours of effort on your part. Everything you have contributed has been for the sake of what is in the best interest of the co-op. I know you do it because of your love for the co-op and community.

The fact that two board members chastised you for speaking up is a big concern to me. You have taken your time to keep members in the loop of what is going on. I would hope other members that have questions and concerns would get involved. The same goes to members who have different views.

Our co-op is member owned and too many concerns have surfaced that need to be explored and investigated.

Keep doing what your doing and know that it is very much appreciated.

Patricia Walsh


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 Author: BigBird
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:36 am 
Thanks Sharon for everything. I don't think it's proper for board members to be chastising members for their input; more corporate-type behavior!

Of course taking financial aspects into consideration, I think it is possible that moving to the Life Quest building could help grow the co-op if management is willing to see that they need to carry the right products to support this community so that they keep members shopping there. That means not carrying expensive gourmet items that end up on the bargain shelf or trinkets that people don't really need - let's focus on food first (especially a bigger variety of fresh organic produce and bulk) and then if the the co-op does really well in a new location other things could be tried one by one.


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:56 am 
Mimbres Granny raises a very important issue regarding the role of membership in a co-op. The Co-op has been an integral part of our lives and the downtown landscape for so many decades that it's easy to forget that it isn't a public institution. It is a privately owned and for profit business, although it is owned by over 2,000 shareholders. The Open Meetings Act only applies to government at any level (and public institutions like the public schools) and in some instances to private businesses that contract with government. All co-ops are guided by the Seven Co-operative Principles, which since 1844 have been seen as the underpinnings of policy created by individual co-ops and actions taken by a co-op. The principles are brief and open to interpretation.

Here they are from an electric co-op:
https://www.electric.coop/seven-coopera ... %E2%80%8B/

Here they are from a food co-op:
https://www.willystreet.coop/seven-coop ... principles

Co-ops are also governed by co-op law which varies somewhat from state to state.

In general, the Co-op maintains and grows based on what it takes in. It isn't subsidized by taxes or corporate donors. It's a business, albeit a special sort of one with a close connection to the community.

Sharon


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2018 6:11 pm 
Here's a link to the most recent Garbanzo Gazette so that you can read the general manager's vision of acquiring a new location.

https://www.silvercityfoodcoop.coop/newsletter

Sharon


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2018 10:37 am 
The annual Co-op picnic is Sunday, May 6th, from 11:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. at the Gomez Peak picnic area. During this time, the annual general membership meeting will be held. This is our "state of the union" address from the general manager, letting us know the financial status of the Co-op, how the preceding year went, and how the upcoming year looks. It is also a time for members to ask questions and make comments. It really helps to know exactly when such a meeting is and to have an agenda ahead of time so that we can ask relevant questions.

Does anyone know what time the actual meeting is?

Does anyone know where we can find an agenda for it?

Sharon


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2018 8:22 am 
It's my understanding that the general manager, Joe Zweibach, is intending to speak at 11:30 and will hand out annual reports at that time. I'm not sure if his speaking is just part of a general membership meeting or actually is the meeting.

Sharon


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 Author: JE1947
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2018 4:41 pm 
Yes.Move it.
It's time to move it.
With a four way stop there, and a big truck backed up two to four days a week, the threat of a major accident is just there ... the radio station is across the street ... people walk across all the time ... it is nice that folks are so cordial & helpful. But the coop is over due for a move to somewhere that parking is easier. Of course, the blow to the downtown will be heavy. So, that is the dilemma. It doesn't have a happy ending, I don't believe.
But there doesn't seem to be any open space down there that is big enough to accommodate the parking at peak hours.
That's my suggestion.
Not that I expect it to be implemented.
I generally can't afford to shop there anyway.
I guess that makes my input irrelevant.
Parking, though, is one reason. Prices are the main reason.
So, that's how it goes.
Eagan


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 6:20 pm 
Sunday, May 6, was the 2018 members’ picnic and annual General Membership Meeting for our co-op. The picnic was well planned and organized by staff, the assistant manager, board members, and the Member Connect Committee. The Duckstop provided the main courses and side dishes, offering wonderfully tasty, nutritious food to a group with a wide range of food preferences, and the dessert making skills of the membership showed to be equally extraordinary and diverse. We shared voicing high praise with every member we spoke with for food and the overall atmosphere of the picnic.

At the General Membership Meeting, the general manager gave a brief State of the Co-op report and handed out financial statements. I feel, however, that he glossed over the losses incurred by the Market Café during its two years (including the year of rent paid before it opened) and the depletion of the Co-op’s cash reserves during that time. Had our Co-op not been in such good health to start with, we could not have endured the losses, which were somewhere between $150,000 and $190,000.

In the March, 2018, Garbanzo Gazette, the general manager explained why we could not realistically look at moving for possibly 5 more years. He says there are two things holding us back: lack of money and the absence of a place to move into. He says, “...While we are healthy - it would take us quite a few years to save that much with considerable scrimping which would actually work against us. So we will need to finance [sic] though in our small town, most banks are reluctant to invest that much in our tiny business. Part of our goal right now is to increase our cash reserves as to minimize the risk to any loaner.”

Suddenly the Life Quest building is available, and In the May, 2018, edition of the Garbanzo Gazette the General Manager effuses over the possibilities that lie ahead if only we could buy it. Suddenly there is yet another imperative to secure a building before it is snatched from us. We paid rent for a year on the Market Café building before moving in and for three months after it closed. Suddenly the general manager is saying we’ll need $1.3 to $1.5 million or more because the cost of the building plus refitting it plus architectural fees plus the move itself is going to be very expensive. And there’s a good chance no local lender will lend us the money, so we have to get creative. His solution: member financing. In that same issue of the GG, he says, “...But I also know of many Members over the years that have said to me that they have dollars sitting in banks doing nothing for anyone. They would love to invest in the Co-op if there was some mechanism set up.”

This seems highly unlikely to me, but not entirely impossible.

(I’ve never been comfortable being the adult, but I feel the need to at least try here. If trying to weigh dreams against that God awful reality that comes swooping down on us and bites us in the butt is negative, then I am daring to go there for now. Someone has to.)

Yes, the unfortunate closing of Life Quest has made a building available that could possibly be a good fit for the Co-op. It could also be the over-reaching move that so many Co-ops have made that has resulted in their going belly up. This is a much better choice than the let’s-move-out-on-the-highway-to-a-strip-mall suggestion that the general manager once kicked around.

This is a bottom-line issue for me: can we afford this major expense at this time and do we have a business plan?

It’s also a trust issue. I don’t trust a leader who doesn’t seem to have learned much from having rushed into at least one catastrophic retail venture.

The next board meeting is Wednesday, May 16, at 4:30 P.M. at Grant County Volunteer Center, 501 East 13th Street. Take Corbin north off 12th.

Sharon


Last edited by SMB on Mon May 14, 2018 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 10:08 am 
Eagan,

It can be difficult to park near a specific business like the Co-op at any given time. If one has a difficult time walking any distance, then there truly is not adequate parking downtown, especially so in some areas. However, parking in general is available downtown all day long, and this has been verified by studies done by the Town and the Main Street Project on at least two occasions. The catch is that it might not be where we want or need it to be.

One issue that organizations like Main Street have battled for 30 years or so is that shop owners and their employees want to park in front of or near their shops. This blocks customers, who just need to pop in to a business, from parking near those shops. People who work in the businesses need to take the parking spaces off the main streets where they are less likely taking a potential customer's space.

As for the trucks at the intersection...yup, it's a problem. I do admire the skill and care with which the drivers have dealt with a bad situation for years. The Co-op has four deliveries a week, I believe. It's also my impression that two of them are done before regular business hours. Even if the Co-op were relocated, Diane's Bakery, Diane's Restaurant & Parlor, Nancy's Cafe, Millie's, the Fry House, Tapas Tree, and possibly Shevek's would still all need deliveries. Trust me, the beer truck is not delivering to the Co-op.

Sharon


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 Author: BigBird
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 12:20 pm 
How does Co-Op management expect to retain enough members so that it will be able to earn the money to move eventually, if it keeps engaging in Corporate-type manipulative marketing behaviors like raising the price by $4 on their existing stock of African baskets while simultaneously holding a 20% sale on them!


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 5:25 am 
If you have questions or concerns or support to offer for the proposed purchase of the old Life Quest building, remember that the Silver City Food Co-op Board meets tomorrow, Wednesday, May 16, at the Grant County Volunteer Center at 4:30 P.M.

Keep in mind that the board does not require a shareholder vote to make this decision. If the decision is made to proceed with the purchase, it will be done by a simple vote of the board.

Sharon


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 10:05 am 
Here is the agenda for tonight's Co-op board meeting. You will note that item F is a discussion of "Financial Strategies and Business Plan update document" which is in the board's packet for this meeting. https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/61f83a_2 ... 5f5a69.pdf

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to go to board meetings having read these documents, as well, so that we could more effectively comment or even more effectively ask questions rather than always being reactive?

Sharon


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 8:02 pm 
New, reelected, and appointed board members (appointed by the old board) were installed at the May board meeting: Jennifer Johnston (3 years), Dan Herbison (3 years), Shanti Ceane (2 years), and Julianna Flynn (appointed for 1 year). Jennifer Johnston was named the new president.

During “Agenda Item A.5 Member Comments,” Bill Lindenau - one of two members, the other being Veronique DeJaeger, who came in from Kingston for the meeting - spoke briefly in reference to a letter that he and five other members including myself and Veronique had signed. The letter addressed our concerns with purchasing a new building at this time. The general manager curtly dismissed the contents of the letter with a comment that they (They being he and the board.) had already thought of all those things. Later, Jennifer Johnston wrote a gracious thank you for our having taken the time to express our concerns and added the assurance that the board was considering much of what we had addressed. See the difference?

In general, the tone of the discussion around the proposed purchase was less frantic than at April’s meeting, and no form of the word “urgent,” including “urgency” or “urgently,” was used even once while I was there, unlike at the previous meeting. Board member Laurie Anderson did express her concern as to this being a good idea, and she apologetically said that she feared she may be the one to put the brakes on the purchase by failing to agree to consensus unless thoroughly convinced otherwise.

The 6:05 break came and my left sciatic nerve quite loudly said, “Stand up and go home or I will make you wish you were dead.” I stood and went home, thus missing “Agenda Item F. Discussion - Business Plan for Lifequest building update,” which is actually what I had gone to hear. It appears that the general manager is working on the business plan with the help of WNMU's Small Business Development Center. This brings me to my own personal conclusion about the Co-op issues I have participated in over the past year. As much as I love the Co-op and have for a very long time, there are other issues on which I stand a better chance of actually having an impact. I have no say in this decision to buy or move nor does any other member who isn’t seated on the board. The decision will be...has been...made by board and management according to policy and by-laws.

When I first entered into regularly attending board meetings, my main concerns were employee rights and closing the failing Market Café to preserve the financial stability of the Co-op. In the past year there has still not been a completed rewrite of employee policy (although expert help was offered but rejected by the general manager), and we have traded the crisis of the Market Café for the crisis of whether or not to buy a new building and move, thus posing yet another risk to the financial stability of the Co-op. Not much has changed in the two greatest areas of my concern for this business.

The Life Quest building will either be bought or not. The Co-op will relocate at some as yet to be determined time or the Co-op will stay where it is. The store will change however the general manager decides it will change. Depending on how these things go, the Co-op will thrive or fail. As with government, we have little say other than in who is elected to make decisions for us. Those positions have been filled by whoever was willing to run. All we can do now is step back, hold our collective breath, and hope for the best, however we envision that.

Sharon


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:06 am 
The Co-op June board meeting has been moved to Monday, June 25, instead of this Wednesday. The location is at the Commons.


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:01 am 
Here is the link for this month's board meeting agenda so that you have some idea of what is being discussed and where "we" are at in procuring the Pope St. property and moving the Co-op to the old Life Quest building.

https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/61f83a_4 ... 936336.pdf


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 10:45 am 
Monday, June 25, was the Co-op board meeting for the month of June. The board spent an incredible chunk of time accomplishing very little. No wonder board members speak of exhaustion and want to cut board meetings to once every two months, perhaps with an executive session (one closed to members) on the off months. I think some form of this may have passed, but between the way decisions are made (consensus instead of yay or nay majority) and the poor acoustics in the Commons, I am not entirely sure what the exact new plan is.

A board member questioned the general manager on the issue of the employee policy rewrite. This is something the board has been calling for during the past year with no results, just the GM’s vague references to progress but no actual product being ready to implement. Once again he blamed the board for keeping him unreasonably busy with the closing of the Market Café and now his time is consumed with relocating the Co-op. The fact that he has had sincere and skilled offers to help him with this just gets lost in his incessant excuse making, which the board seems to jovially accept.

Another board member asked him why no one in the Co-op knew where he was on a particular day. Of course it wasn’t his fault. The poor overworked guy was apparently giving of his own (?) time to do something and that darn staff just got it wrong. When the GM speaks, I have a very difficult time following his sequencing of events and reasoning. Bottom line: when something isn’t right, it’s not his fault.

There are preliminary floor plans for the location at Pope and College. There was more talk of financing for the move and retrofitting of the new location than of financing the purchase itself, which makes me wonder what the plan is for financing that part.

GM Joe and the board seem to believe that by moving we will increase business enough (at least 10%) to cover the debt service. If this doesn’t materialize, the GM’s ideas for saving money are to reduce payroll (which means cutting more staff or paying them less) and/or increase prices. He addresses this and other issues in the current Garbanzo Gazette. Which can be found here https://www.silvercityfoodcoop.coop/newsletter .
Ideas for getting a downpayment on the new building: mortgage the current Co-op building; loans from members.

So, if you looked at the links to La Montañita Co-op in ABQ, you’d have seen that Co-operative Development Services (CDS) is one of the consulting services that La Montañita blames for poor guidance resulting in an unwise purchase and changes to a more corporate style business and subsequent losses, all of which brought about the Take Back the Co-op movement. At this June meeting, the board and general manager discussed the need for a consultant and project manager. Bill Gessner of CDS seemed strongly favored by the GM to be his advisor on this project; however, in the July Garbanzo Gazette, Board President Jennifer Johnston says that the matter of hiring a consultant is being given careful consideration and that we would be kept “in the loop” as the decision is made.

At this point in time, according to the general manager’s front page item in the Garbanzo Gazette, the Pope St. building is “under contract” while the board and others look into possible sources of financing. Just listening to the general membership that I know, there is both excitement and concern about such a proposed move. Some are full-steam-ahead people, trusting that the board and general manager have a good sense of this community, what works, and what we can afford. Some are stay-put people, saying make what we have last, reconsider how we stock our shelves, and let’s rebuild our cash reserves. Some say it might be a good move, but we have to make the best decision we can based on the best information available. In July's "Cup o' Joe," the general manager says "[p]ersonally – for me – I make decisions mostly based on how something makes me feel." I'm not entirely at ease with that approach when it comes to a potentially $1.5 million dollar business venture that isn't his own personal money. The board president, Jennifer Johnston, is a researcher, not only by profession but...I believe...by nature as well. I trust her ability to ferret out and compile the best possible information. Laurie Anderson, the treasurer, has shown herself to be willing to confront issues with the general manager, and to be concerned about the treatment of employees, and she has expressed her desire for a cautious approach to this purchase. These two board members for now give me some hope that they will hold the rather difficult to pin down style of the general manager (and the earnest but perhaps sometimes heady hopes of the board and shareholders for an even better Co-op) to reality checks when needed.

The next board meeting is Wednesday, July 18, unless otherwise noted. The general manager and board seem to have set the end of July as the cutoff date for making the decision whether to move and for how to implement it should the decision be yes.

Sharon


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 Author: mimbresgranny
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:36 pm 
I share your concern for what appears to be a glib attitude towards the fate of employees or prices as simply an item on the ledger. Not only are both of far more importance to the success of the business but also contain further reaching consequences. It does appear that this GM is going to move full steam ahead, based on his feelings and where he prefers to work, regardless of any financial reports. I don't know about you but I have never heard of placing a contract for a sale/purchase BEFORE it is known where the financing is coming from. This does not fill me with confidence. So... it appears to be out of the members' reach and whether we have a co-op in the future a matter of roulette.


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 Author: Thelynno22
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:57 am 
I echo all concerns expressed here. My hope for a food co-op in this community lies with the inability to secure financing for this purchase. I think 1.5mil is very conservative for a project like this. I think 10% growth as a result is overly optimistic. Since the GM is so overly vague, we must look to the past. The Market Cafe was opened with the same sort of good feeling in Joe and it was a total disaster. I am no longer a member of the co-op, but hope the remaining members can avoid another big mistake.


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 Author: BigBird
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:17 pm 
I too have noticed that the GM always makes excuses and refuses to listen to what another is saying so I don't bother talking anymore. Because he never takes responsibility for the decisions he makes, I don't trust him on this one!


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 Author: msauber
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2018 8:26 pm 
I, for one am excited at the possibility of a move to new location with very adequate parking, room for better manueverability within the store, another register to check out people faster, No need to go between 2 buildings to get backstock opening two doors, having the wind blow product off the cart or having the grade between the buildings creat product falling off of the cart. More space inside means stocking would be much easier and better displayed and more room for more bulk items again like vinegar and Olive oil etc. I would think getting into the building with as little cost as needed would be prudent, allowing for future upgrades as needed and money permits.
As far as getting a contract without secure funding yet, that would be up to the seller. I think it was wise to do it. I'm sure the contract has the normal language stating we are not liable if we can't secure funding. No loss there.
If we can honestly afford it, I would love to see it happen, and I don't think 10% increase in sales is at all overestimating the growth. I could be wrong but I would venture to say it could be moderately higher.

Michael


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:02 am 
In addition to what was in my initial notes on the July board meeting, three shareholders addressed the board: Bill Lindenau, Dean Jarosh, and Susan Van Auken. Each of these member-owners urged caution in entering into this deal, each with their commitment to the continuation of the Co-op as their primary concern. None denied the difficulties inherent in the old structures and none appeared to oppose the idea of acquiring a building that would solve the very real and serious problems that the current location poses, as clearly identified by Michael. They just urged caution in entering into this financial transaction. Of the three, Susan has seemed to be the most supportive of the move in general, while Bill and Dean have both expressed their doubts that this is a sound financial decision at this time.

The general manager has said that we can cover our debt service with a 10% increase in sales and is confidant we will do this. Michael, the general manager, and the board and their financial consultant seem confidant that we can easily increase our sales by 10% or more as a result of the move. Lynno, Jim Druffel (a Bullard St. business owner), Veronique de Jaeger and Bill Lindenau, and Dean Jarosh have all expressed their doubts through posts and/or letters to the board and/or in speaking to the board.

As I mentioned in my July post above, the general manager has said that failing to hit this goal could be remedied by "...massive cuts (mostly in payroll)..." and by raising prices. I'm not certain how cutting staff supports a move that is being done with the goal of expansion. Nor do I understand how cutting pay, hours, and/or benefits (all ways to cut payroll) supports our commitment to fair labor practices. We do have such a commitment, don't we? Co-op staff do not receive health insurance through work but have a small (very small) health care allowance that, I believe, has been based on the amount of their hours of work. They lost their matching money for IRAs a while back. They do have a generous discount on what they buy there.

As for raising prices, Eagan mentioned the Co-op being too expensive for him to do his general shopping there, and many that I have spoken with over the more recent years (both frequent and casual shoppers) have mentioned cost as well. For those of us who can afford to, we often choose to pay what we perceive to be a little more on a few items to support the Co-op. Idealism has real limits, however, and if we can't afford something at the Co-op, we don't buy it or we look elsewhere.

That is all we are asking of the board in making this decision. Put aside the pie in the sky when making this decision and make sure you do your best to keep the bread on table.


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 Author: bmishuk
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 1:00 pm 
I agree with Michael Sauber about all the advantages of moving and also about securing financing. Most offers on property, once accepted and under contract have contingencies. Obtaining financing is indeed one of those contingencies and no bank will loan money if they do not feel there is the ability of the borrower to service that debt. I believe the Board is taking a prudent approach to this purchase but like any venture there are risks, and yes, if there was a problem we would have to cut back, and personnel being the largest expense after cost of goods is the likely area. In the past when payroll reductions were needed most positions were eliminated/combined as folks left the Co-op on their own to pursue other interests or dreams. There have been very few actual layoffs. I presume this is what would happen should it be needed in the event that the Co-op did not get the shopping support needed to keep it going for generations to come or if there was an unexpected downturn in the economy. I am personally excited about moving to a space with so much potential. I'd be OK if we ended up staying where we are but I am very aware of the fact that our current space, aside from its drawbacks as Michael mentioned, has no potential to better serve those future generations. I encourage folks to come to the Board meetings and get a first hand feel for the way the Board and Management are pursuing this venture.

As Sharon mentioned the Board is going to try out having an open discussion type meeting every other meeting. My understanding is that these "non" business meetings will also be open to member attendance and the only time members would not be welcome is if the Board needed to discuss either a real estate or personnel matter that could not wait until the next regular business board meeting and therefore they would have to have a closed session during the scheduled discussion meeting. Board members have lamented the lack of time the regular meetings have had for any in depth discussion on a variety of topics so this is an attempt to remedy that.


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 Author: mimbresgranny
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:01 pm 
Once again, SMB has stated my concerns quite well. We are trying to trust the board but it is hard with all the "if"s in this deal. Those speaking in favor are using that same language. Contracts usually contain... Personal cuts are usually with attrition... The bigger space might bring more customers because they can park...

1- what contracts usually contain is not the same as letting us see the contract. It is not the same as knowing our financing has been reviewed by "the bank" as sound and pre-approved what we can afford before we enter negotiations with a seller.
2- I don't believe the coop is overstaffed. Cutting staff means the remaining staff will need to do more no matter how much easier that work might be or how much nicer the place is. Attrition only works when there is a large enough staff that there is regular turn over. Is the GM willing to be the first to take a pay and benefits cut?
3- Where are these additional customers to come from? Silver is not growing. There are no new businesses anticipated. Perhaps there will be an increase in those who need the special dietary options afforded. Most people I know who don't shop there say it is ALL about prices because they would like to buy healthier foods but can't live with the the cut in quantity that would be required to stay in budget. Any increase in prices will be difficult for this limited income Town to absorb and most predictions are for the economy to get tighter in the near term.

I need the specialty supplements that I can't get elsewhere in this town. I am VERY concerned about a decision that has any chance of bankrupting this business. It would "feel" different were there not the red ink left from the sandwich shop as well as the sting from that failed decision.

All this "trust in the Force" thinking makes me very nervous.


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 Author: SMB
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:08 pm 
This Wednesday, July 18, is the monthly Co-op board meeting. It would seem from the discussion last month of how to alternate action item meetings with ones centered on discussion and input that this meeting could allow for more time for member-owner comments and input. Here's hoping.

At previous meetings, the general manager has mentioned July 31 as the cutoff date for taking further action toward purchasing the new building. I'm not sure exactly what that date means, however, in reality. The board has given earnest money to the sellers and the general manager has engaged an architect to do preliminary planning. Financing? I have no idea where that stands, but rumor has it that a local bank is eager to lend "us" money. How much? No idea.

As members, whether you see this as a wise and necessary move justifying immediate action or as a wonderful building whose availability is unfortunately off, the board needs your support in making sure that the general manager follows protocol and does this right because I suspect it will be done.

Remember to come to the meeting at 4:30 this Wednesday at the Commons and support our Co-op.


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