A Kelowna co-operative grocer with a focus on locally grown and seasonal foods could be forced to close up shop after a slow May.
One Big Table has served the Kelowna community for nearly two years at its downtown St. Paul Street location, but a dwindling cash reserve has left founder and co-operative director Giulio Piccioli asking if it’s feasible to stay open.
On June 25, One Big Table aired its financial strife in a public plea on Facebook.
“The situation has been delicate for a few months and because of the month of May, we decided to reach out to our members first and to the community as a whole,” Piccioli said.
“In May, we went from barely above the water to below the water essentially.”
To ensure the doors can stay open, One Big Table staff asked its nearly 1,200 members to bring friends in to the shop, buy gift cards and spend a little more on each visit.
“The most important one is to come to the shop and support us,” he said.
Piccioli hoped the Facebook post would start a conversation about participation and the biggest question he’s asking is does the shop provide a service deemed necessary in the community?
“We have had lots of community support,” he said. “First and foremost from our members—who are our owners.”
Piccioli said if members spent $5 extra per visit, “it would put us in a position where we’re not as worried.”
Now, the co-op director is asking members and the public to join One Big Table for its annual general meeting July 10 at the CoLab Space at 1405 St. Paul Street. Anyone interested can save their spot for the AGM on eventbrite.
The company’s financials have been released online in order to prepare shareholders before the AGM to encourage a “better conversation,” Piccioli said.
“We’re not asking something that is too difficult to reach,” he said. “The main goal is to spark a conversation with our members first and the community as a whole.”
The struggles the local food grocer is experiencing is evident of a larger problem, Piccioli said.
“There is a big argument to be made around the real cost of food and that conversation of local isn’t relevant right now due to the high cost of food,” he said.
The prices of the goods and produce sold at One Big Table support local farmers in the Okanagan. They represent fair wages and best businesses practices, said Piccioli but the cost is often undesirable compared to bigger chains stores.
“(These prices) are a clear reflection of what goes into food production, rather than importing foods from different parts of the world,” he said.
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