Food store closes: one more blow for small community

LANDIS — Just over a year after the Landis School shut its doors for good the Central Plains Co-op – Landis Food Store will do the same. Friday, July 10 marks yet another heavy-hearted day, when the community will watch their grocery store doors close.

Murmurs of the store possibly closing had been floating around the village for a while, as it was common knowledge the store was having difficulty hiring new staff and it was no longer profitable. In the second week of June, residents' fears were confirmed with a mail out appearing in post boxes that Central Plains Co-operative Ltd. was shutting the store down.

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The bottom line of he page-long mail out,  put out by the board of directors and the co-op's senior leadership team, was, "simply put, the food store is no longer viable for Central Plains to operate and it has not been for quite some time. The largest (contributing) factor to the financial results is our dwindling population, which also makes it increasingly difficult to attract enough individuals to ensure that our store is staffed in a proper and, more importantly, safe manner."

“It is another blow to our small community. The closing of the school everyone knew, was inevitable, but the closing of the co-op agro centre and store, we were told, would not be affected by the amalgamating with Rosetown. The store, we knew, had been losing money for years, but had always been subsidized by proceeds from the rest of the co-op,” says Mayor Joe Sarrasin.

The board says, "the losses totalled in the last three years alone have combined to total over $500,000. As far as a correction goes, we are too far apart between what our actual sales are and what we would need to achieve for sales to break even."

The store, which has been a landmark in Landis since 1959, amalgamated with Central Plains Co-operative Ltd. on Oct. 30, 2011. Residents, many elderly, who have depended on the convenience of the grocery store over the years, have voiced concern that they will now have to travel to grocery shop. However, the board states "we may consider delivering groceries to individuals within the community of Landis on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, providing that there is enough interest to make this viable."

In a June meeting, the board of directors made a motion "to close the Landis Food Store with the option to sell it for the sum of $1 to any individual, community group or business."

Says CPCL General Manager, Mike Moon, “CPCL is hopeful that someone in the community of Landis will purchase the building and land and operate a food store in the community and we are committed to assisting in any way we can.”

And, even as the business shuts its doors, Mayor Sarrasin stays optimistic, “Knowing the resilience of the people of Landis and area, I am sure we will continue to work at building our community and make it a place that people want to live. This is an opportunity for someone to start a much needed enterprise in our Village, which everyone would welcome and support.”

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