Questions and Answers regarding the possible sale of the Doylestown Food Market. Repetition is intentional.
To read the member email sent on 12/21/17, please click here
- Is it a done deal?
No. Members must vote to accept the sale. Shareholder Members will be given full details of the offer when negotiations are complete. If, at the end of January, members vote not to sell, we will close our doors immediately following sale of our inventory.
- When should we expect further details of the proposed purchase?
The negotiating committee has been done its due diligence and completed an agreement, pending member approval. A member email and proxy ballot was sent out on January 10th to all shareholder members. A copy of those documents may be downloaded here or obtained in-store. For specific details of the agreement, please contact Lisa White at LSWhite12@gmail.com.
- Are the ballots ready?
Yes. You can obtain your ballot in-store or by downloading here.
- How can I ask questions?
Questions can be addressed via email to Lisa White at LSWhite12@gmail.com or via telephone at 215-584-6525 or email them to email@example.com. As additional questions are received, we will do our best to answer them on this page so others may read them.
- When will the member meeting be?
The Member Meeting is scheduled for the evening of Tuesday January 30th at the Doylestown Mennonite Church.
- Who gets to vote? There are more than one of us in the household. Do we both get to vote?
No. Only the Shareholder Member who originally signed up gets to vote.
- When will I get my proxy? How do I return it?
Your proxy was emailed to you on January 10. Proxies may be returned via email, to the store, or in person at the member meeting on January 30th. We encourage all members to attend the member meeting. The proxy can be downloaded here.
- I don't get member emails! What should I do?
Many of our members' emails have come back to us as "bad", "Bounced" or "opted out". We have tried to send those via forwarding from gmail, but many of those still came back as undeliverable. If you are not getting emails, it is likely that you have either changed your email and not notified us or the emails are being blocked by your provider. Please let firstname.lastname@example.org know your correct email and we will try to resolve it. Members who have not been reached via email by January 5th will be contacted by telephone if we have a usable phone number.
- How does our Board recommend we vote?
Each person must vote his or her own conscience. The Board unanimously supports the sale of the co-op to our potential buyers. It is, in our strong opinion, the way for the majority of our mission to continue in our area and also to get the greatest return for our owners.
- Have you honestly tried to do everything you can to keep us a co-op? If the potential purchasers think they can make it profitable, why can’t we???
Your Board, staff, and many devoted volunteers have tried for four years in our current location to make the cooperative profitable. We are in debt. We have major cash flow problems and are losing money monthly. The board cannot, in good conscience and indeed in fact, borrow more money to keep us operating. For us to move as a cooperative to another location, we would need to borrow extensively.
- Why didn’t we ask our members for loans to keep us going?
Member Loan campaigns take a lot of work and we no longer had the volunteer resource capacity to conduct one. Traditionally, Member Loan programs are used to move to a larger, more convenient store, not to make up a deficit in an existing store. Based on our past experiences with fundraising requests (for example, looking for donors to buy new refrigeration and generators and lease them back to the co-op), we did not believe that we could raise the significant capital we would need to move to a Phase 2 store. Additionally, we have tried many times over the years to maximize volunteer efforts through educational and other outlets and have, unfortunately, been relatively unsuccessful.
- I didn’t know we were in trouble. Did you try asking for help?
Devoted shoppers, volunteers and donors not with-standing, we have made many requests for both financial and volunteer help over the life of our cooperative. Annual meetings and multiple emails to members have detailed our needs and our financial situation. For many months, our sales figures were even posted on our door. Every event and email included a request for volunteer help as well as a request to shop at your cooperative as much as you could.
- Why should I continue to shop at the Doylestown Food Market if it is going to be sold or close?
Until the members vote and/or the potential buyers sign on the dotted line, the assets and liabilities still belong to us. The greater our sales during that time, the more money and or future credit will come back to us with the dissolution and/or sale of the assets.
- If the sale goes through, can I still use outstanding gift cards I have?
Yes. The potential purchasers have agreed that they will continue to accept legitimate gift cards from the Doylestown Food Market.
- What will happen to our local producers?
If members vote to dissolve without a sale, our local producers will no longer have the benefit of the Doylestown Food Market as an outlet for their products. If members vote to sell, the prospective buyers hope to continue as many relationships with the local producers as they can.
- What will happen if the flat sales continue if/after the store becomes a private entity?
It is the hope of the board that members will support the new entity and their desire to continue the mission of sourcing healthy local food for the community. The prospective buyers believe, and board members are hopeful, that the larger store, with greater selection and parking, will bring much needed added revenue, allowing them to be profitable. Nonetheless, like any other privately owned store, the new owners will likely communicate their own visions and programs if the members vote to sell. Any changes will be their decision.
- If the store is bought by a private entity and is no longer a cooperative, how much input/involvement can/will I have as a customer?
As any good store owner will tell you, customer input is always critical to their success. Our potential buyers assure us that not only will they listen to what you have to say, they will welcome your involvement to help out. They do, of course, have their own ideas about changes they will make. They remain committed to local, organic and healthy food.
- What is the timeline for a new location?
If the membership votes to sell, the buyers plan to continue the store at the current location until they are ready to move to their new location, anticipated in the spring.
- What information will the new owners get if they buy us?
A condition of the member agreement to sell will be that the buyers have our member email listing and information. After the sale, members can opt out of any email listing with the buyers and ask that their information be purged. It is your board’s hope, however, that you will continue to support the new entity fully.
- Where will the new store be?
We are not yet at liberty to say as the potential new owners are still undergoing their own negotiations. We can say, however, that they are looking at a place very close to the existing store but with much more parking.
- What will happen to our cooperative?
Our cooperative would dissolve, and members would receive some very small return on your member equity. If we sell rather than close, the new buyers plan to continue our mission in their new location albeit as a private entity.
- What can we expect in terms of reimbursement for our owner equity?
If the sale goes through, owners can expect some small percentage of their equity to be paid back to them in cash as well as some form of store credit to be used at the new owners’ location. Your Board has worked hard to negotiate the best possible deal for our members.
If the sale does not go through, all remaining assets AFTER ALL DEBTS have been paid, will be disbursed to owners. Given our current financial situation, members could expect no more than pennies on the dollar of their original equity. When owners invested in the store, there were never any guarantees of return on that equity.
- What will happen to the educational piece of our cooperative? The Non-profit arm?
Our related non-profit, The Doylestown Community Programs, will continue to focus on education. Once all of the dust settles from either a sale or closing, we will continue with our education efforts which we hope will include FED (Food Education) Talks, our book club, and our Farm Fresh Film Series.
- Will we still have our Farm to Table Dinners and other fundraisers?
Past fundraisers were critical to help keep our operations going these last four years! If we do have any in the future, they would instead benefit our non-profit Doylestown Community Programs.
- What happens to our Eco-system partners?
Any agreements between Eco-systems partners and the Doylestown Food Market Cooperative will no longer exist, as we will no longer exist as a cooperative. It is our hope that our non-profit educational arm, The Doylestown Community Programs, will find a way to maintain many of these partnerships.
- Will the business change its name?
Initially, the prospective buyers plan to keep the name the same. What they do in the future will be determined by them.
- What will happen to the staff working at the store?
If the members vote to sell, the prospective buyers plan to maintain all current staff. If members vote not to sell, there will be insufficient funds to pay staff and they will be let go.