Competition from supermarkets and other factors caused sales to plummet.
By CYNTHIA VINARSKY
VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Good Food Co-op, a nonprofit organic food store on Pyatt Street near downtown, will close Friday after nearly 30 years in operation.
Treasurer William Brewster announced the closing to the store's 550 member families in a letter mailed Friday. He said the board operating the center voted Nov. 3 to close, citing slow sales.
"We felt a deep sadness that another Youngstown institution had failed, but we saw no alternative to closing," he wrote. "Our location, competition from grocery chains, and the weakened economy have been against us this year. The time had come to face the truth about our situation."
Members pay dues of $25 a year to get a 2-percent discount on merchandise and member prices on some items. Nonmembers also can shop at the store, but their numbers have declined in recent years.
Plans are to open on a limited basis after Friday to sell out store inventory. Brewster's letter did not state the days or hours of the inventory clearance sale, and store officials could not be reached to comment.
Brewster said he warned members about the store's financial troubles in a newsletter earlier this year and again in letters mailed this fall asking them to shop more often. The store's income increased for two weeks after the first plea, he said, but since then sales have dropped even lower.
Pyatt Street was once a bustling commercial strip that included the former Pyatt Street Diner next to the food store and the Pyatt Street Market, a farmers market across the street. The restaurant closed about a year ago, the farmers market has been vacant about two years, and now the street is quiet with little traffic.
Store officials have said that the market and eatery helped attract customers, so their closings had a negative effect on business.
Founded in 1975 by a group of Youngstown State University students, the store was originally called Good Karma Food Co-op and was based at the First Unitarian Church on Elm Street, Youngstown. The store was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 1976, moved to a Belmont Avenue location and later relocated to Pyatt Street. The name was changed to Good Food Co-op in the 1980s.
With average yearly sales of $360,000, the store's revenue reached a high of $480,000 four years ago. It employs five full-time workers.