After nearly fifty years in business, The People’s Grocery Co-Op has closed due to declining sales and lack of record keeping. The store’s board of directors voted to liquidate all assets and dissolve the company this month.
Acting president Christina Hauck shared the news to community members and about membership owners at a meeting in September.
Over the course of the past several years, sales at the store have been declining while debt has mounted. In the past eight months, sales at the store dropped precipitously, from approximately 61K in January to approximately 30K in August.
Kimberly Foster resigned as General Manager at the end of August. She started in June, giving the board hope that she could turn things around, but the store received a tax lien in July which forced the store to find $120,000 to pay the debt or close and liquidate all assets.
In a Facebook post on September 26th on the store wrote, “Hi everyone, Kimberly here. It is with sad heart I make this post. Please understand that I will not yet close this Facebook page, but know that I took admin as default. I will NOT be checking on People’s page, nor responding to any questions because I do not have any answers.”
The previous General Manager before Kimberly lapsed the store’s liability insurance, leaving the board of directors and store managers liable for the store’s $30,000 unpaid taxes.
More than 1,200 owners are registered at People’s Grocery. Hauck said she was unsure how many of those members are still alive or even in town, as those records have been poorly maintained.
Alex Smythe, board secretary, said the success of national health food chains shows that there is still interest in the business model, but anybody looking to take over the company would first have to settle the $120,000 in debt.
“I’m so unhappy, and I’m so sad and stressed,” Hauck tearfully told the group. “It’s so awful, but when we incorporated back in 1976, we did so for a period of 50 years, which seemed so damned optimistic. But we almost made it. We almost made it 50 years.”
Hy-Vee delli has the Farmers cheese that coop used to sell !