BisMan Community Food Co-op struggling financially, looking for more community support | Bismarck
Reese said the co-op got through the last fiscal year thanks to a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program – a form of federal coronavirus aid – and an early panic buy in a pandemic. But now that sales have slowed, she says, it’s hard to budget payroll and proceeds, and buy basic necessities like toilet paper and gloves.
Reese said the co-op has outstanding debt only to business loan holders and members. There are more than 70 individual member lenders, most of whom are cooperative members. They have loans ranging from $ 1,000 to $ 30,000. The total debt between member homeowner loans and commercial loans is about $ 1.5 million, Reese said. All sellers are paid up to date or within 30 days, she said.
To keep the shelves well stocked and start paying off the loan debt, the co-op would need $ 230,000 in sales per month on a consistent basis, according to Reese. She said the business loan debt must be settled before the cooperative can start repaying individual community members.
â€œYour dollars matter here,â€ Reese said. â€œMulti-million dollar companies have benefited from the pandemic. Sole proprietorships, mom-and-pop stores, and boutiques, it’s hard to keep our heads above water. “
The cooperative has focused on promoting and supporting local farmers, according to Reese. The store’s vegetables, eggs, honey and meats are supplied by more than 70 different producers in North Dakota. About 60% of a sale goes to producers, she said.