Alfalfa House is in trouble..and it will take all of us to save it
Yes, it’s true. The co-op is in financial trouble. For some time now, sales have been slow. With regular losses this year, our current situation has become very serious. To put it bluntly, we are at risk going bankrupt in the new year if we don’t change something soon.While we are unique as a member-owned cooperative, we have been facing increasing local competition, little membership growth, unexpected maintenance costs and changing customer preferences. We have tried cost cutting, new products and some pretty decent price drops to encourage members to shop more at Alfalfa but it’s not been enough.
We’re running out of time. As shared business owners in this cooperative, we all have a stake in our co-op. We need to pull together to turn this situation around. What are we going to do?All other major co-ops in NSW and ACT charge annual fees of between $25-50 per annum which helps them with long term sustainability and growth. Alfalfa’s board, the Members’ Council, will be proposing the re-introduction of an annual fee as part of a strategy to raise funds.This will be formally proposed and discussed at November’s AGM and if approved, introduced in 2017. In the meantime, the Members Council, staff and volunteers are working hard on lots of other activities to raise funds, help attract new members and re-engage current members, cut operational and product costs and reenergise support for Alfalfa House.
How can members help?
1. SHOP The most obvious way we can all help is to shop more at Alfalfa House. If each of us spent an extra $5 a week we would break even again. So look after yourself and the coop with something extra in your basket, like an extra block of Loving Earth chocolate, a couple of apples or a small jar of nuts!
2. DONATE You can make a one-off donation. You could pay an annual fee for every year you have been a member (it used to be $10/year)! Contribute at the store counter or click here to donate online.
3. ENCOURAGE OTHERS If you know people who might like the co-op, spread the word! If you bring someone in and show them around, they can shop on your card that day - and if they like it, suggest they join. It’s only $20. And if someone mentions your name when they join, we’ll give you $10 credit towards your next shop.
4. VOLUNTEER We need volunteers to help with all sorts of duties. If we had a steady stream of regular, reliable people it would mean we could save costs by cutting back on paid services (e.g. cleaning) and work on some of our longer term strategic goals.We urgently need volunteers to help us in the coop for 2 hours/week as a shop assistant- helping staff refill, greeting and assisting customers and cleaning.Other skills we are looking for:
- Grant seeking and writing
- Social media strategy
- Event organising eg. product tastings, stalls and open days
- Leaflet drops
- Screen printing
- Blogging about the coop
- Survey- designing and managing a survey for local community and members
Please speak to a staff member or contact us at [email protected] if you can help. If you would like to help organise a fundraising event for Alfalfa House, email [email protected].Volunteering inductions happen weekly at 10.30am Saturday. Together we can save the coop!