The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.
Faced with mounting losses and increased competition, the general merchandise department of the Co-op will close by May 10. The store's board of directors unanimously made the decision at a meeting last week and informed management and staff on Tuesday evening. "In the past years, the board considered the general merchandise department a service to the membership but now with the current retail condition in Flin Flon, that service is no longer needed," read a Co-op press release. The board reached its decision after taking part in a business review, which had been requested as a result of years of losses in the general merchandise department. "It was not an easy decision, as it does involve job losses," read the press release. "However, the board is charged with the responsibility of the financial well-being of the Co-operative and as such has decided that, given all the factual information from the business review, this decision was the right one." The Co-op plans to liquidate the general merchandise inventory by May 10, but some types of this merchandise will still be available either at the store's grocery department or nearby gas station. "At this point, we're trying to integrate as much hardware as we can into our food and gas operations," said general manager Greg Baribeau. "Given the space constraints, it's going to be very limited, but we're going to still try and service the membership as much as we can." Other options are now being considered for the 13,400 sq. ft. of space on the bottom level, including leasing out portions to entrepreneurs. "We're not going to limit any of our options, but that's one of the options we're looking at," said Baribeau. "We have to find out what kind of interest there is for that option. The sky's the limit. We feel that (the bottom level) is a very attractive location because of the traffic from the grocery department." There is also the possibility that the administration offices will move from upstairs to the bottom level, with the current office space being used for the grocery department. See 'Direction' P.# Con't from P.# Since the administration staff would take up only a small fraction of the bottom level, they could easily share the space with entrepreneurs. "By the time we liquidate the stock, we'll have more of a feeling for what the interest is for that space and we'll be able to base a better decision at that time which direction we'll go," said Baribeau. The general merchandise department, which offers a variety of items such as CDs, electronics and kitchenware, has been in the red for years. Losses totaled $139,495 and $132,369 in 2001 and 2000 respectively. "The 2002 statistics aren't out yet, but the losses were fairly substantial then as well," said Baribeau. "Because of the current economic situation, we projected even larger losses in 2003." The general manager said the focus for the Co-op now turns to groceries and petroleum. "We want to be in the food business and we want to be in the petroleum business for a long time," said Baribeau. "The board wishes to ensure the membership that they are dedicated to the success of the Co-op and they are looking at many options to strengthen the food and petroleum operations of the North of 53 Consumers Co-op," read the press release.