A pioneer in the organic food movement in Vancouver is closing its doors this weekend.
East End Food Co-op will open for the last time on Sunday (May 15), ending its long presence in the city’s Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood.
The decision to close the consumer-owned grocery store came after years of financial difficulties.
East End Food Co-op has seen declining sales in the face of increased competition from big chain stores.
On May 3, the business of the cooperative was listed on the market for $99,000.
“Take advantage of the great visibility, foot traffic and the goodwill built over the many year of serving the community,” states the listing by RE/MAX Crest Realty.
Lease is $5,500 at the grocery’s location at 1034 Commercial Drive.
On its website, the cooperative relates that it has been a “pioneer in the organic food movement since 1975”.
“We have deep roots and 40 years of history in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood. We are proud of our longstanding support of local producers and farmers and we work hard to offer as many local products as possible. We understand that buying locally strengthens our local food system and our community.”
Also, “The East End Food Co-op is Vancouver’s only consumer-owned grocery store and is collectively owned by thousands of local residents.”
There will be a closing celebration Saturday (May 14) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Here’s the letter from the cooperative’s board announcing the closure of the store.
April 14, 2022
Dear EEFC Members,
This evening, the Board of the East End Food Co-op held an information session with members in which we had to make a very difficult announcement. As you are all probably aware, our store has been struggling over the last decade or more as the retail organic/natural food landscape has changed dramatically with more competitors, including the larger conventional chains, placing increasing emphasis on the products which we were initially formed to provide.
The changing market has brought a continuous decline in sales for our Co-op, and we have been struggling to overcome this decline over many years. We are very proud and appreciative of the hard work that our staff members have done to try to address our challenges, in a situation made even more challenging by the complex work-environment caused by the COVID pandemic. We have tried many courses of action – from new margin and merchandising plans, to searching for a larger location where we might expand our product and service offering. Unfortunately, we have reached a point where we are, frankly, out of time to try anything more. Our lease is up in June of this year and we cannot, in good faith, enter negotiations with our landlords who have been more than generous with us over our long tenure in the building. The recent extreme fluctuations in cost of goods have created an additional level of uncertainty for our store operation. The ethical and responsible act is for the Co-op to cease operating the store on Commercial Drive while we have the possibility of an orderly wind-up.
We have explored every alternative we could think of, including offering our staff the opportunity to take the store on as a worker-co-op. Unfortunately, the kind of capital necessary for such a venture is not available. Given this reality, we are sorry to inform you that the Board has had to vote to close our Commercial Drive store prior to the expiration of our lease in June. Sunday, May 15 will be our last day of operation. This is a very emotional and difficult decision, but it is the action we must take to ensure that we are able to make as graceful and responsible an exit as possible for our community of members, staff and suppliers.
We thank you for your loyalty and commitment to the Co-op over the years. Many of you have not only shopped with us through thick and thin – but many of you contributed in other ways to support our Co-op over the decades. We are proud of our legacy of providing jobs, supporting new businesses, and strengthening our local food economy while providing unique and healthy food. We are also very proud that our Co-op community has been instrumental in bringing new values to the grocery market here in Vancouver – from being first to market with organic and bulk foods (decades before to being among the first to stop using plastic bags in our store we many accomplishments to be proud of and we have learned much through the years.
We are also planning a closing celebration to take place in May. Watch for in-store specials in the coming days through store signage and Facebook announcements. We ask that you continue to shop at the Co-op as much as possible while our doors remain open - this will help ensure that our Co-op can fully support our staff and meet our obligations as we go through this difficult transition.
We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of our staff, past and present - and for our wonderful members who have sustained our community-owned enterprise through the years.
Thank you for your understanding and support,
Management and Board
East End Food Co-op