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Grenfell Co-op facing financial challenge

The new board for the Grenfell Co-Op in St. Anthony includes (from left) Sheldon Snow, Janice Noble, Boyd Noel, Co-Op president John Budgell, Wallace Green, Garfield Rideout and Roxanne Saunders.
The new board for the Grenfell Co-Op in St. Anthony includes (from left) Sheldon Snow, Janice Noble, Boyd Noel, Co-Op president John Budgell, Wallace Green, Garfield Rideout and Roxanne Saunders.

The Grenfell Co-op’s annual general meeting painted a bleak financial picture for the 104-year-old St. Anthony store. And it throws into question its ability to continue supporting the community as it has done throughout its history.

At the AGM on Feb. 20, the Co-Op revealed to its attending membership a continued decrease in sales over the course of 2015-16, putting the Co-Op in a precarious position.

“It has to turn around or else the viability of the store is just not there,” says newly elected president, John Budgell.

According to manager Boyd Manuel, one reason that they’ve experienced a decline in sales is the perception that the store is more expensive than the competition. Budgell hopes that the AGM will help dispel this notion.

At the meeting, the board provided its membership an extensive breakdown of the prices at the Co-op and its main competition.

Manuel says the location of the store is another issue he has heard cited, as it is away from the business centre of town.

As a publicly owned organization, the board believes the loss of the store would be substantial to the community and to the membership.

The Co-op works within the community and frequently provides support by donating food and volunteering their time for community events and programs.

This is a huge part of its initiative.

Manuel said they cook meat for the majority of meals hosted by different organizations; they’ve hosted barbecues for different events; have donated food for the Winterfest bonfires, and are big supporters of the Boys and Girls Club and the Kids Eat Smart program at the school.

Budgell and Manuel also cite the Co-op’s relationship with the Family Resource Centre as one that has been mutually beneficial for both groups.

Manuel said in one recent year, the Co-op sponsored, attended, or made a big contribution to over 30 different events, not just in St. Anthony but the entire region.

The structure of the Co-op also makes sure that only the local membership benefits.

For one, anyone can sign up and become a member of the Co-op and, therefore, have a say in all major decisions. Moreover, Budgell says if the store makes an excess in revenue, that excess is shared out among all of the members.

“It’s not a corporation – all the money stays in this area,” says Manuel. “The Co-op is here to make money for the people and that’s it.”

To comfortably survive, he estimates they’ll have to generate approximately $4.2 million in sales revenue. From March 2015 to March 2016, the store made $3.2 million.

Therefore, they’re going to need more community support.

“We have to make sure that we get the message out to the organizations that we support that it’s equally important for them to support their Co-op or the Co-op won’t be here to support their organizations,” adds Budgell. 


New members for Co-op board

At the AGM on Feb. 20, members of the Grenfell Co-Op elected new members to the board of directors.

Wallace Green and Roxanne Saunders, secretary, are the two latest members to join the board. Sheldon Snow, who was at the end of his three-year term, was also re-elected.

Former president Cyril Street and vice-president Leon Penney did not run for re-election.

John Budgell was elected the new president and Boyd Noel was elected the new vice-president by board members.

Other board members are Sheldon Snow, Janice Noble, Garfield Rideout, Hilda Best and Woodrow Burden.


Facts about Grenfell Co-Op

Year of incorporation: 1913

Gross Profit for 2016: $639,343

Gross Profit for 2015: $778,710

Net Loss for 2016: $89,285

Net Loss for 2015: $350,086

Deficit for 2016 (end of year): $1,007,562

Deficit for 2015 (end of year): $918,277

Main business: Groceries

Other goods: Instruments and other supplies; local produce; local crafts

Number of current employees: 16

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