The pandemic inflicted deep financial wounds on some businesses; others prospered. Things looked pretty uncertain when the crisis reared its head last March but, as manager Eric Hargrave explains, 2020 is turning into the Cortes Natural Food Co-op’s best year ever.
Best Year Ever in terms of sales
“In terms of net profit, it’s the biggest we have ever seen – for the first half of the year at least, and we expect that to continue,” he began.
Hargave was pondering a much different scenario last March. He didn’t know if he would need to close the doors and to go to deliveries only, or if the Co-op would have any staff.
“March and April were up about 33%, compared to what they would usually be. That means we were profitable in the Spring, rather than just breaking even. Then the summer was busier than what we expected. We figured we’d be down maybe 25%. We were only down 10%, so it was like a normal summer from a couple of years ago.”
Sales volumes normally take an abrupt drop after labour day, but that didn’t occur this year.
“Even in September and October, we are 25% up over last year. Which is a lot! – something I wouldn’t have guessed,” said Hargrave. “Just right now, we are starting to see days that are comparable to what they were last year.”
“People are … not coming to the store as often, but they are buying a lot more when they are at the store. They are looking for new and interesting things to take home because they have been cooking for awhile. They are willing to try new things. They aren’t spending that money in restaurants, so they are generally willing to spend it in the grocery store.”
A lot of people on this island right now
Hargrave explained, “There are a lot of people on this island right now. I do not know where they are staying, or where they are living, but a lot of people who decided to come when the pandemic started are still here. People who had a second home here, or that sort of thing, but we are also seeing new people. I’m not sure if they are just straight up tourists, or they are coming to visit other people they know here. We still have the occasional person just browsing, who has never been in our store before – which is very different for October.”
In the podcast above, Eric Hargrave also talks about keeping up supplies and how the Co-op Cafe is doing.
Links of interest:
- (Cortes Currents) articles about, or mentioning, the Cortes Natural Food Co-op
- (Cortes Currents) articles about, or mentioning, Gorge Marina and General Store
- (Cortes Currents) articles about, or mentioning, the Squirrel Cove General Store
- (Cortes Currents) articles about, or mentioning, the Cortes Market
- Cortes Natural Food Co-op website
- Gorge Harbour website
- Squirrel Cove Trading Co. website
- Cortes Market website
Top photo credit: Courtesy Cortes Natural Food Co-op
This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative.