Oryana West: A letter from Jim, Board President
Dear Oryana Owners and Shoppers,
I hope you had a chance to read Steve’s announcement about Oryana’s purchase of the Traverse City Lucky’s site, which adds a second location for Oryana. I can tell you from my experience of being on the Board for the last 10 years, there is certainly never a dull day at your co-op.
I want to share with you the Board’s perspective on this decision and tell you a bit about the process we used to determine that this was a sound move for the continued success of the co-op and strong grocery services at this time.
As the head of operations, Steve kept us informed, almost daily, of the situation with Lucky’s Market beginning in January and the many twists and turns of the story. Armed with all of this background information, the Board used our February annual retreat to discuss what opportunities were available and whether they would be a good fit for the co-op.
As representatives of the Ownership, it is the Board’s obligation to ask questions about sustainability and use of resources for decisions such as this. Together, we reviewed shopper survey results, Owner demographic information, a risk assessment, and a detailed Market Study that specifically addressed the viability of the Buffalo Ridge Center as a second Oryana location.
Steve then presented his vision of a second location and what it would require from a financial and operational standpoint.
It was clear that Oryana was again ready to grow as our 10th Street store sales were increasing and the square footage and parking spaces were becoming strained. We all could see that our co-op was uniquely positioned, having financial strength, an experienced team, and a loyal following. With the potential to acquire an already viable grocery operation at low cost, Oryana would have a limited financial risk but stand to gain a prime second location.
We discussed our options at length. In the end, our GM proposed that Oryana should enter the bidding process in the Lucky’s bankruptcy proceedings and requested the Board’s support. With enthusiasm, the Board unanimously voted to approve. We felt that placing a bid is not only a sound business decision, but one that will help grow and secure the co-op’s future.
In light of recent events, as part of a closed session during our March Board meeting, Steve again updated us on this project and, again, asked the Board for support in moving forward during this trying time. The Board felt that not only was this still a strong financial decision, but now a strong community decision as well. Grocery is essential, and strong local grocers are even more important. We fully supported moving forward with the bid.
One of our charges is to grow cooperative business and demonstrate its strength to our community. Our cooperative principles place the security and viability of the Owner’s business above speculation or reckless growth. With this in mind, I can confidently say we are securely positioned to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
A second Oryana is not only another place to walk the aisles and find delicious, high-quality, local items, it is also a demonstration of the strength of the cooperative model.
Thank you for what you each have done personally to support us for the past 47 years. It is because of you that we are ready for the next phase: more co-op, more good, more Oryana!
Yours in cooperation,
Oryana Board President