Durango Natural Foods is facing a cash crunch and is conducting a fundraising campaign to raise $150,000, most of which would be used to pay past-due invoices from vendors.
Jamie Matthews, a board member and treasurer, said the problem arose from declining sales from construction at the corner of College Drive and East Eighth Avenue, where the cooperative is located, and was compounded by slack summer sales during the 416 Fire.
The cooperative, established in 1974, is distributing a letter to member-owners to encourage shopping, and it is looking for members to forgo their once-a-week 10 percent discount at the co-op. Last year, Matthews estimated the cooperative provided $45,000 in member discounts.
The cooperative has opened a GoFundMe page to help raise funds.
“I think this is totally doable in 30 days, as generous as our community is,” Matthews said.
Matthews said the cooperative is suffering a cash crunch, but it is not insolvent.
However, the GoFundMe page states, “We regret to inform you that DNF is dangerously close to closing its doors. After almost 45 years of serving this community, our sales are too low to pay what we owe to local small farmers and vendors. We are in debt to the very community members we exist to support. Many of them are friends and neighbors of yours: Twin Buttes Farms, Desert Sun Coffee, All Seasons Farm, Turtle Lake Refuge and many others.”
Matthews said funds raised will go to local vendors first and then to national vendors. She said an agreement has been reached with many local suppliers to pay current invoices for continued deliveries and to begin paying off the past-due invoices starting with the oldest ones first.
Matthews said another problem is the nonprofit cooperative is established as a 501(c)(12), not a 501(c)(3), and is not eligible for many grants set up to help 501(c)(3) nonprofits.
The cooperative would also like to establish a small savings account that would provide a buffer fund for contingencies, such as the road work that hurt sales this year.
A member-owner question-and-answer session will be scheduled in early January to provide information about the financial pinch, Matthews said.
The co-op is also exploring options to boost its bottom line, such as creating a buyer’s club, expanding its deli and providing more ready-to-eat-offerings such as sandwiches and take-and-bake items.
Expanding the deli and providing ready-to-eat offerings should appeal to traffic from Fort Lewis College, Matthews said.
“The college is a great clientele for us. We’re so convenient for them.”