The emergence of competitors like Whole Foods led the East Lansing Food Co-Op to close its doors in January after 41 years of operation. At the time, leaders of the customer-owned enterprise expressed hope that they would be able to re-open at some point. Now, it appears that will not happen.
Tonight, owners will meet to consider the board’s recommendation that they dissolve. There are about 2,000 owners, and the co-op has assets of about $180,000.
Board President Yelena Kalinsky says members have been suggesting proposals on how to proceed since January. "We'll be talking about what are the next steps for ELFCO and the board in terms of a dissolution," Kalinsky states.
Dissolution is contingent on a vote of the ownership.
If owners decide not to dissolve, work would be needed to create a profitable or sustainable entity. "Right now, we have the equity from the old store and from the sale of the old building that could go towards a new locally run food business," Kalinsky continues, adding that it would take new ideas and more engagement from owners "who want to make that happen."
If dissolved, the ELFCO bylaws call for returning equity to owners. Details of that action would be contingent on co-op law in Michigan, and details would need to be worked out with legal help.
Tonight’s ELFCO meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Allen Neighborhood Center on East Kalamazoo Street in Lansing.