Harvest Co-op Facing Financial Difficulties

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Richard Heath

The original Harvest Food Co op just before it closed in January 2015

Harvest Co-op Markets, which maintained a store on South Street in Jamaica Plain for many years before opening a new market on Washington Street in Forest Hills and closing the original, are down nearly 40 percent from 2011, and is losing $30,000 a month, the Boston Globe recently reported.

Richard Heath

The original Harvest Co-op at 57 South St. prior to its closure.

Harvest Co-op, which also maintains a market in Cambridge, posted a public letter in April explaining its situation and encouraging its members to spend more on groceries:

We have some distressing news to share about the business that we own together. According to the Harvest management team, we are facing a significant cash flow problem and declining sales. As with many natural grocery cooperatives across the country, Harvest is facing increased competition in the market and declining customer loyalty. Without more cash on hand soon, Harvest will struggle to make payments, repair equipment, or invest in future of the business.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it. This situation is serious, which is why we’re appealing directly to you — Harvest’s member-owners — for help. Together, we believe we will weather this storm and in the process create a stronger, more democratic, and more resilient business.

The letter goes on to say that, unless members and others choose to shop at Harvest more often and to participate in its committees and activities, fixes such as no longer tying Member Appreciation Day to a specific day could be for naught. If each of the co-op's 3,600 members spent $15 more each week at the cooperative, the operation would be fully sustainable.

The Globe article posits that "the wider availability of more natural food in mainstream supermarkets has accelerated its downturn," and cites the 2011 opening of Whole Foods in JP's Hyde Square as a contributing factor. However, the article does not specifically consider any possible effects of the decision to open the new Harvest at 3815 Washington St. and close the more central 57 South St. store. That store shuttered in spring 2015 after its lease expired. Residents expressed various wishes for the empty space; Pine Village Preschool eventually opened there last fall.

Visit the Globe to read the full article.