Northern Star Foods
June 8, 2018
As elected representatives on the Board of Directors of Northern Star Cooperative Services, we feel that it is imperative to let you know when something out of the ordinary is happening within the company we all have ownership in. It is for that reason that we write you today to inform you of a change in our operation that may affect the way you use our cooperative.
As you are likely aware, today’s business climate is significantly different than it was 30, 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. The advance of the internet, the changing demographics of our population and the growth of non-traditional businesses entering the grocery business has adversely and severely affected the business of our Northern Star Foods grocery store. This is a challenge that we have been fighting for the past many years, but being a one store operator in a grocery business of multi-store grocers and “big-box” retailers, we have decided that this fight cannot be continued.
Our Board of Directors and our Management Team have made the decision, that in order to protect the equity you have earned in Northern Star Cooperative Services, to exit the traditional grocery business that we have operated for the past several decades. This decision was not made hastily and we want to insure you that we considered and discussed every option available to us, but the truth of the matter is that we cannot compete with the buying power of our competition and we cannot change the demographics of the area we serve. Northern Star Foods will operate through the month of June and into mid-July as we sell down the remaining inventory. During this time, we are hopeful that we can keep the store fairly well supplied, but we apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause you.
Among our greatest concerns when making this decision was the well-being of our Northern Star Foods staff. The staff have worked hard over the past number of years to try to save the grocery store and we are sincerely appreciative of the efforts, and in some cases the sacrifices, they have made. Though some of the staff will be retained, we will not necessarily have positions available for all of them. The Board of Directors and Management Team assure you that we will ease our dedicated and loyal staff through this transition in a way that is thoughtful and caring.
In order to look to the future, you have to sometimes look to the past to see that new opportunities can lead to prosperity. As you look back, there was a time when our cooperative owned a creamery, a feed store, a repair shop and a small service station on the corner of MN 6 and US 2. All of these segments were at one time very important to our member-owners and they positively contributed to the bottom line performance of our Cooperative, but because of changing business conditions or customer demographics we found that we could no longer operate in that business space. Our evolution as a cooperative has been successful, because we have made the tough, but right, decisions to exit business segments that were no longer performing in a way that contributed value to the cooperative as a whole.
As we communicate this news with you, we can assure you that we are planning to use the grocery store building and property in a way that will once again add value to you and to the cooperative as a whole, while being considerate of other businesses in our small, but tightly knit community. Because of some ongoing negotiations, we are not ready to announce definitively what we will be doing, but we will say that our plans will employ people and add value, while protecting your investment and gaining the return on equity that you have come to expect over the past many decades.
In closing, we would like to thank all of our member-owners who have supported our Northern Star Foods grocery store over the past decades for the business and the loyalty you have shown. With challenge comes opportunity and we are excited to see what the future holds for this wonderful cooperative. Thank you for your time and for your understanding.
Sincerely and Cooperatively,