Dear Harvest Cooperative members,
We have some distressing news to share about the business that we own together. According to the Harvest management team, we are facing a significant cash flow problem and declining sales. As with many natural grocery cooperatives across the country, Harvest is facing increased competition in the market and declining customer loyalty. Without more cash on hand soon, Harvest will struggle to make payments, repair equipment, or invest in future of the business.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it. This situation is serious, which is why we’re appealing directly to you — Harvest’s member-owners — for help. Together, we believe we will weather this storm and in the process create a stronger, more democratic, and more resilient business.
Before detailing specifics about how you can help, we want to share some of the changes already underway.
This year, the board initiated a change in management. We hired Wynston Estis, a very experienced interim co-op General Manager. Thanks to the hard work of Wynston and the Harvest staff, the layout, product selection, and customer service of our stores are improving. These changes will culminate in a Harvest Community Celebration Week, the weekend of April 7-9. Come visit for the chance to win prizes from neighboring business, while listening to local music and enjoying delicious samples all day long!
At the same time, we are looking for ways to increase the value of membership. For example, starting in April, Member Appreciation Day will no longer be tied to a specific day. Members will be able to use their 10% coupon on the day of their choosing. We will be sending more information about this soon, so stay tuned!
The Harvest staff is digging deep to meet the cooperative’s challenges head on. We’re grateful to have such a dedicated team guiding us through this difficult moment. We think these strategies are a smart first step to ensure survival for Harvest and all we stand for against “big food”.
However, unless members and others choose to shop at Harvest more often and to participate in our committees and activities, these changes won’t be enough. You elected the Board to guide these kinds of processes, but we need to hear from you, the member-owners of Harvest Cooperative, to choose the right strategies for our co-op.
Next month, we are hosting a Member Forum to bring together Harvest staff, board, and membership to discuss the state of the cooperative. At the Forum, we will share detailed information about Harvest finances and answer questions from members. We think that coming together in person is essential to building community and a more participatory cooperative. We hope this will be the start of series of community forums. Stay tuned for more information about the Forum in the days ahead, but for now save the date!
Harvest Cooperative Member Forum
April 18, 2017
6:00PM – 8:30PM
Citywide Senior Center
806 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
Open to the public
In addition to visiting Harvest for our Community Celebration Week and participating in next month’s Forum, there two other key ways you can help the co-op right now:
1. Shop more at Harvest! We can’t stress this enough. The most important thing the cooperative needs right now is our business.
If each Harvest member spent $15 more each week at the cooperative, we would be fully sustainable!
Harvest Cooperative was built by its community of member-owners, and it’s our member-owners that will sustain us. So come do a little more of your grocery shopping at Harvest this month. We’re counting on you.
2. Increase your investment in Harvest and our values.
Do you have a friend or family member who might be interested in joining Harvest? Now is a great time to encourage them to become a member-owner.
We are also developing a member loan program. Stay tuned for more information about this in the coming weeks. The program will provide Harvest with the cash we need to compete, while offering participating members a small return on their investment.
This is a critical moment for our cooperative. It is precisely in moments of crisis that the power of community shines brightest. Together, we can make Harvest stronger and more resilient than ever.
Thanks for doing business with us.
Harvest Board of Directors