Bismarck Co-op known for Greens, tries to pull itself out of the red

BISMARCK, N.D. - Since opening its doors a year and a half ago, the BisMan Food Co-op has provided the community with a wide selection of organic, locally sourced health foods.

But questions are now growing about the health of the store itself.

“On a day to day basis, we’re doing well. Unfortunately there was a bit of a hole dug that we’re getting out of, and that’s typical in any start up business,” said new Co-op General Manager Carmen Hoffner.

Hoffner says that hole is the result of early mismanagement.

“Unfortunately the people that took over thought they were doing a really good job, but according to some of the numbers, when we put them in a spread sheet and looked at how much we were spending, and how much we wer bringing in, the numbers weren’t matching,” said Co-Op Wellness Department director Mike Hayne.

Those mismatched numbers, resulted in farmers left uncompensated.

“The last beef we took up was in June, which we still have not gotten paid for,” said rancher Tresa Paul, who sources meat for the Co-Op. "We’re a small business, and when you don’t get paid at all for your products, that definitely hurts your check book.”

“We are past due on several vendors, and so we’re catching them up at the moment,” admitted Hoffner.

Hayne points out, “Some of the negative things that have been said about the co-op, yes they are correct, they are accurate, but it takes away from the service we provide to the community.”

Despite the setback, the new management is hopeful for the future of the store.

“We are focused on organic foods, and want to promote as much local as possible” said Hoffner.

As for the rancher? She says there’s no beef between her business and the co-op.

“I think the Co-op is an excellent idea, I would encourage the Bismarck community to be supportive”

It’s an idea that will take a cooperative effort.