The Bisman Community Food Co-op Has been on a financial rollercoaster since the pandemic started

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 4:50 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The Bisman Community Food Co-op has been forced to adapt during the pandemic. Operators say it’s been a financial struggle.

It’s the Co-ops loyal customers who have helped it last this long in the pandemic.

“Whenever I can, we always shop local. It’s so important always, whether there’s a pandemic or not, because we want to see these little businesses thrive,” said Bisman Community Food Co-op Customer Jenny Heitzman.

At the start, the Co-op saw an influx of panic-buying.

“For about three months, we had issues with just trying to get enough product in because we were having issues from the distributors. They were limiting the number of items that you could get off the truck. If you needed ten cases, a lot of times you could get one. And maybe, you wouldn’t even be able to get that one case,” said General Manager Shirley Reese.

Then came a drastic drop in revenue.

“Sales started to decrease. And then, as time went on, sales just continued to plummet,” Reese said.

The store was forced to shut down its salad and hot bar due to health safety protocol. The number of shoppers kept decreasing.

Revenue dropped by 23% in December-- 2% shy of being considered eligible for PPP loans. Staff is now on their own, coming up with a plan to recover the losses.

“Our management team spent hours every single week trying to figure out ways that we can connect to our customers and bring them back through the doors because we feel so passionate about the weight and the privilege that has been put upon us to support these North Dakota producers,” Reese said.

Reese says the Co-op is more focused than ever on getting in products from local farmers and ranchers.

She says the shop still has a long road ahead. But, she says it’s dedicated to providing a place other North Dakota producers and small businesses to rely on.

The salad bar has now reopened and staff is making a social media push. For more information, find Bisman Community Food Co-op on Facebook.

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