Dear Harvest co-operators,
This is a difficult email to send. Despite the tireless efforts of Harvest staff, the Board, and member-owners to try to restore the Co-op to good financial health, Harvest is approaching financially insolvency with no viable path forward.
During the past decade, the retail organic/natural food landscape has changed drastically with more competitors, including the larger conventional chains placing much more emphasis on the organic/natural products arena. This changing marketplace has created a decline in sales for our Co-op that has intensified over the last two years, and the trend continues. We have put many cost controls into place, reducing purchasing and labor costs. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked. Sales continue to drop, and Harvest continues to lose significant money each month.
It was our hope that National Co+op Grocers (NCG) could provide a financially sustainable solution that continued Harvest’s operations with as little disruption as possible. We learned a few days ago that NCG determined that they would not be submitting a proposal for us to consider. In light of this fact, and the reality that we have no other viable options to rescue the Co-op, the Board has determined that the most responsible act is to close the stores in order to get the most value out of our assets to address as much of our financial obligations as possible.
In consultation with legal counsel and our primary lender, the Cooperative Fund of New England, the Board has agreed to wind down Harvest Co-op Markets effective immediately. We are still working through the final closing process but expect that the stores will close within the next 7 – 14 days.
We determined that this is the right action to take in order to ensure all Harvest employees, many of whom have supported us for many years, will receive their final payments. We had to act quickly because of the cash position of the Co-op and the fact that the stores continue to lose money each day.
We thank you for your loyalty and patronage. We are particularly grateful for those member-owners who have volunteered in many capacities over the years, including as directors of the Board. We are proud of our legacy of providing jobs and keeping our local economy strong while providing unique and healthy food. We have accomplished and learned much through the years.
Do you have questions?
Attend the last in-person Board Meeting. Our October board meeting is scheduled forMonday, October 8, at 6:30 PM at the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center in Jamaica Plain. The only item on the agenda is member-owner Q&A. The Board will answer any questions we can at this time.
How can I help Harvest during these final days?
Keep shopping until the doors close! We will be having a going-out-of-business sale over the next 7 –14 days. The more we sell at retail prices, the more value we will have to pay off our creditors —some of whom are themselves cooperatives.
Organize a farewell event. Member-owners are welcome to organize any farewell events to say goodbye to Harvest. While the Board still has the ability, we will send out information regarding these events to the community and post on social media.
Your Harvest Co-op Markets Board of Directors