Co-op Move

Letter from the Board of Directors


Greetings Member-Owners and Friends of Buffalo Mountain Food Co-op:

What an interesting year it has been! We have all adapted to continually changing circumstances. The challenges of this past year-and-a-half have made one thing profoundly clear at BMFC for both staff and customers: the space that we love so dearly has become increasingly difficult to thrive in. With this in mind, the BMFC Board of Directors began exploring how our co-op could grow and flourish now and for decades to come.

Our options for finding an alternative retail space in downtown Hardwick are limited. However, the BMFC Board learned of a unique opportunity–the owners of Hardwick Village Market are selling their business so they can retire! This development prompted the Board to investigate the possibility of purchasing that property. We needed unbiased data to make an informed decision, so we hired the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) to perform both a market feasibility study and a financial feasibility study. Both studies came back in favor of purchasing the property and relocating. Part of their study included an extensive community survey. We had around 700(!) responses, a majority also in favor of moving.

With these positive indicators, we are happy to announce that the Board made an offer to purchase the Village Market building, its inventory and equipment, and the adjoining green space and parking area, which the sellers accepted! We anticipate a total estimated budget of $1M to cover the purchase, fees and property upgrades. This, however, does not mean we are definitely relocating. A crucial step in the purchasing process includes receiving approval from our Member-Owners; that means YOU decide if we take this awesome leap!

We invite your input on this pivotal decision! Contact us through outreach@BMFC.coop, or leave questions and comments at the register. We are also holding two community meetings, which will take place in the pavilion at Atkins Field on Granite Street in Hardwick. The first is scheduled for Sunday, September 19th at 4pm and the second on Monday, September 27th at 6pm. The Annual Meeting will be held Sunday, October 10th, also at Atkins Field, starting at 4pm. Voting by Australian ballot on this topic will be open from October 10th to October 24th. An announcement of the decision will be made by Monday, November 1st.

Please continue to be an active part of the Buffalo Mountain Food Co-op and Hardwick community by participating in this exciting process! Your voice and your vote truly make a difference!

In solidarity,

Annie Gaillard

BMFC Board President

Board Considerations

Below are some ideas regarding the possibility of a move that the Board discussed at length. We are confident that you have additional thoughts, new perspectives and questions, and we would love for you to share them!

COMMUNITY

  • We are an anchor in the main street business community.
  • We have a small community gathering space in our café.
  • Our deliveries disrupt downtown traffic.
  • In a larger store we could offer a more diverse product line allowing us to serve a wider demographic.
  • A new location would allow BMFC a greater presence in the community.
  • A larger space would encourage frequent gatherings: more café seating, outdoor events, art exhibits, live music, classes, workshops, etc.
  • Additional shelf space presents opportunity for more local products, keeping money close to home.
  • HVM location is set up for meat processing, so we could help local farmers access a larger market and provide specialty meat cut options for shoppers.

STORE

  • Love our current store and vibe!
  • We have an intimate and personal shopping experience.
  • By staying in our current location, we find solutions that fit our small size and encourage us to have a smaller footprint.
  • We don’t currently have the financial pressures growth brings in our decision making processes.
  • We have limits on our product selection due to the size of the store which can make it difficult to meet member needs.
  • The building infrastructure is difficult to work and shop in due to having three floors and a tight shopping area, including a bottleneck at check out.
  • We purchase less from our distributors than larger stores nearby, so our prices are less competitive.
  • Changing the store location would change its physical character.
  • Financial feasibility in a larger location is based on a mixed product line of organic and conventional items, changing the co-op’s identity.
  • In a larger space we could become a one-stop shop.
  • Selling more goods will get us better prices from our distributors, passing on savings to shoppers.
  • More visible location that is still central to downtown.
  • Trucks can deliver without disrupting downtown traffic.

SUSTAINABILITY

  • By being a one-stop shop it enables shoppers to stay in town, which keeps money in our community and could decrease carbon usage.
  • Potential to work with the town to have an EV charging station and to have space for solar power.

ACCESSIBILITY

  • Our current store is not ADA compliant. It has a narrow entrance, no ramps, restricted aisles, public restroom and café on second floor without an elevator.
  • On-street parking can be difficult for those not willing or able to parallel park.
  • The HVM location has ample off-street parking.
  • Wide entrance and aisles for wheelchairs and strollers.
  • After a remodel there could be an accessible bathroom at the HVM location.
  • The café would be accessible!

FINANCIAL

  • Our current business is stable with low overhead costs; we own our building!
  • Lower costs in a larger space could make us more stable in the event of an economic down turn.
  • Our current building needs repairs due to deferred maintenance.
  • There isn’t currently much room to grow our sales, though expenses continue to rise.
  • Being in debt and having higher monthly costs creates greater vulnerability to economic forces.

EMPLOYEES

  • Storage is currently limited and deliveries are very challenging, requiring substantial time and effort to complete tasks.
  • Three story building makes for a potentially unsafe work environment.
  • Greater potential to increase wages and benefits in a larger store due to increased revenue.
  • Efficient and safer work environment in a new location with storage and office space.

What comes to your mind? Please let us know!

outreach@BMFC.coop or leave a note at the register, and participate at our community meetings!