Potsdam Food Co-op financial picture improving, maintenance projects underway

Jul. 31—POTSDAM — The Potsdam Food Co-op's financial outlook has taken a positive turn, marking a significant improvement from the challenging financial situation the co-op board reported earlier this year.

Interim manager Jessie LaRose on Friday conveyed this progress in a message addressed to the co-op's membership of 1,323. She announced that the store had achieved profitability throughout the entire second quarter, spanning the months of April, May, and June. Moreover, the once overwhelming bills have become manageable, and necessary repairs on the store located on Elm Street have commenced.

LaRose opened her message by acknowledging the Co-op's previous struggles after enduring substantial financial losses during the pandemic.

"As most of you are probably aware, the Co-op suffered severe financial losses following the pandemic. Our situation had become pretty dire at the start of this year," she wrote.

She also mentioned that when she took on the role of interim manager, difficult decisions had to be made to ensure the co-op's continued responsible operation. The challenges ranged from paying bills to exhausted staff and the pressing need for repairs in the current building. The co-op had to confront the reality of being affected by the pandemic's impact on businesses like many others.

Despite these hardships, LaRose expressed happiness in reporting a profitable second quarter, attributing it to the concerted efforts of the co-op's staff and the support of over 1,300 members. Additionally, the co-op received a substantial tax refund in July through the Employee Retention Tax Credit for retaining employees during the pandemic. This refund helped the co-op catch up on its bills, build some savings, and bolster inventory.

With the financial situation stabilizing, the co-op has started addressing deferred maintenance issues.

"Our roof and parking lot are receiving some TLC, and we also plan to make some merchandising improvements in the store and replace failing equipment to strengthen our operations," LaRose said.

There are other developments are on the horizon as well. The co-op is launching a new promotional program in collaboration with the National Co-op Grocers, which will offer lower prices on grocery, refrigerated, frozen, and wellness department items.

LaRose, who has been an employee of the co-op for nearly 15 years, thanked the staff for their hard work and support.

"As an employee for nearly 15 years (and counting), I am absolutely over the moon to see our Co-op moving in the right direction and to have had the opportunity to lead it over the last several months," LaRose said. "I also want to take a moment to thank our incredible staff for their dedication, hard work, and supporting me as their leader. I could not have done all of this without them. Next time you are in the store, be sure to thank them for their efforts."

Her message also noted that the current enrollment of 1,323 is the highest in the co-op's history.

"This is the highest membership number we have ever seen and is a clear indication that people want and need us in this community," she said.

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Co-op has planned an annual open house on Sunday, Sept. 17, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event will feature custom t-shirts for sale, photo opportunities, live music, kids' activities, free food and drink samples, craft beer, and store product discounts.