WELLINGTON – Feb. 23, 2017 – Members of Wellington Co-op have voted resoundingly in favor of adding a major expansion to their store to accommodate the sale of alcoholic beverages for the PEI Liquor Control Commission (PEILCC).
Of the 122 members who voted during a special meeting Wednesday night, 102 (or 83.6 per cent) circled « Yes » on their secret ballot and 20 (or 16.4 percent) circled « No ».
The greatest concern expressed during the questions and comments period was about the proposed 15-year mortgage of $415,000 (for construction, equipment and initial stock), which represents what some feel to be a considerable risk, especially in light of the small anticipated profits. In response, the board noted that it expects extra traffic in the co-op will generate additional sales, both in groceries and liquor, as was the case when a similar situation arose in O’Leary a few years ago.
President Lisa Arsenault and manager Rick Arsenault both stressed the fact that members must shop more at the co-op if they expect the project to be successful and profitable. Otherwise, it would be a wasted investment.
Following the meeting, the board was obviously relieved of the voting result, after weeks of studying the various available options and after developing the best possible proposal to maximise profits and minimize risks for members.
At the start of the meeting, members heard that the co-op has seen a $200,000 drop in sales these last few years, mainly because of increased competition from the numerous stores that are now selling groceries in the neighbouring community of Summerside. The disappearance of the « Co-op » brand and the fact that the Co-op is now purchasing its stock from Sobey’s have also had a marked impact.
The board was therefore looking for ways to increase its sales when it heard last fall that the PEILCC wanted to close its Wellington store, located in the Place du Village mini-mall, and was inviting tenders to take over liquor sales in the area. The Co-op therefore submitted a proposal, which was recently accepted. Members had to give their official approval before the Co-op could sign the contract.
The board considered three options: taking over the current liquor store location, expanding into the section of the mall located immediately next to the Co-op or building an expansion.
After crunching numbers and taking into consideration its goal of increasing sales and profits, the board concluded the only viable option was expansion.
THE NEW PROJECT
The project that has been accepted includes the elimination of the current hardware section, which is not at all profitable. Then, a 29-by-60-foot expansion would be added onto the front of the store, thereby eliminating about 10 parking spaces.
A 15-by-15-foot cooler would be installed to cool off certain beverages, primarily beer. In the adjoining groceries section, eight freezer doors would be added.
The liquor section would be divided off by a wall; a sign at its entrance would advise that this section is restricted to those 19 years and over.
A new sales counter would be added, next to the three existing counters. The two counters closes to the liquor section would be designated for both liquor and grocery sales and would therefore be manned by adult staff only. The other two counters would be for grocery sales only.
Additional security cameras will be mounted in the store and in the storage area to prevent theft.
The current offices would be moved and a board room would be constructed. There would be no private entry for the liquor section.
The Co-op is ready to offer jobs to the current liquor store’s part-time staff. In slower times of the day, they could work groceries. The entire store would also get extended hours of operation.
If everything goes to plan, the new liquor section could be up and running by the end of the summer or early fall.
CUTLINE: Following the special members’ meeting of Wellington Co-op Wednesday night, manager Rick Arsenault (left) and board members Gerry Reichheld (vice-president), Krista Arsenault, Lisa Arsenault (president), Melva Gallant and Paul Perry were relieved to see that the majority of members supported the expansion project they were proposing.
For more information:
President, Wellington Co-op
Manager, Wellington Co-op