Bisman Community Food Co-op urges people to shop local, as sales decline

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The state’s only Community food co-op is facing possible closure if their sales do not increase.
They are asking for your help.

“Every week now I’m balancing how I’m going to pay for the product and pay for my payroll. Every week. So, this is an absolute immediate need,” said Shirley Reese, General Manager.

Shirley Reese, the the Bisman Community Food Co-Op’s General Manager tells us, sales have dropped 70,000 dollars a month.

“So, this has been 6 months long where our sales have continued to decrease so low, that we’ve basically used up any reserves that we may have,” said Reese.

She says both national competition and the pandemic have played a role.

“Our web orders were going ok for little while. We did curbside. We did all the things that all the other small businesses did to compensate, but it has not been enough to keep us stable through this time, We’re struggling to keep everything functioning from a month to month basis,” said Reese.

You might not know it, but the Bisman Community Food Co-op is the only one in the state of North Dakota. Many local farmers turn to the store as another retail option.

“Some of our producers, we’re pushing a thousand dollars worth of their product or more. That’s a big deal. I don’t know very many families that could say, oh by the way, you have a new budget now, because you’re a thousand dollars less, said Reese.

Walking around the store, you can see the impact.

“We’re cutting back. A lot of people notice it on the shelves. We’ve definitely heard it. That people notice we’re not carrying certain items anymore. Just to make room in the budget for items that do sell really well. We just can’t afford to bring them in. That’s always really hard. When you know it’s something somebody wants, and not being able to,” said Emma Franklund, Grocery Manager.

So why shop at the food co-op? We asked one customer why she continues to come back.

“You know where your food’s coming from. You know the farmers who produced it. There’s a lot of local farmers in the area that produce beautiful items for the store. This is a gem for Bismarck, and I think it’s foolish not to support it,” ” said Lisa Kostelecky, Customer.

Reese says of the 3,000 members, only about 200 are regularly shopping in the store.
They’re urging anyone to come in and shop local.

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