With heavy hearts, we have decided to shut down Distributors of Regional and Organic Produce & Products (DROPP) operations. Our last delivery will be Friday, May 29th, 2020. Our food hub, DROPP, has been breaking even each year since we moved into our warehouse space three years ago. From a Great Basin Community Food Co-op (GBCFC) budgetary perspective, we were okay with that – because supporting and supplying local food is one of our co-op’s main purposes!
Since the onset of the Covid pandemic, we have seen our restaurant sales decline considerably, which has reduced our ability to move the volumes of local and organic food that we need to… for ourselves and for our producers. We quickly pivoted and tried out home deliveries, and while we are very grateful for the business, we realized that they require 2-3 times as much labor. After nearly 2.5 months of operating DROPP at a significant loss, we recognized that the co-op wouldn’t be able to sustain the financial burden long term. The final straw was the notification that Burning Man would be canceled. This is an event that we already struggle with politically, socially and environmentally, but one that also provides DROPP with a significant boost in sales, helping to make up for the Q1 & Q2 financial losses each year.
The reality is that one event should not be the crux by which we regain our financial ground… an event that we feel quite torn about participating in. Especially when the size of the event requires us to scale up to a degree that our facility and systems are not equipped for, resulting in dangerous working conditions, 16-20 hour days (for weeks on end), and not as much impact on our core purpose. We see the need to diversify and strengthen our customer base to include getting food to those in need, institutions, and governmental bodies. In order to reasonably do this, we need a facility that has efficient flow and storage capabilities and will allow us space to obtain food safety and good manufacturing certification. This will require investment. GBCFC is not in the position to make this jump at the present moment.
We are not looking at this closure as a defeat but more as a much needed break while we figure out the best use of our co-op’s resources (see our CALL TO ACTION below). We’re proud of our work over the past 12 years and we’re grateful for the communities that supported us and the lessons that we’ve been fortunate enough to learn. Here are a few of our key accomplishments:
- We started to brainstorm DROPP back in 2008, 3 years after we helped to start the co-op. In 2012 DROPP received her name and has been running officially as a food hub since that year.
- DROPP never had a year that incurred a loss to the co-op. We didn’t have much profit to speak of, but we always covered our labor and expenses.
- DROPP moved almost $ONE MILLION$ dollars worth of local and organic food last year alone!
We can’t thank everyone enough for the support over the years. Thank you to all the chefs who made it a point to change their buying habits and to purchase from us when local products were available that they could use. Thank you to all the member-owners who placed special orders. Thank you to all the producers for cultivating, bringing their goods to us, communicating, and planning. Thank you to the DROPP Team and everyone who pitched in at the warehouse over the years. Thank you, Burning Man, for showing us what it looks like to scale. Thank you to all of the folks at our own co-op for cultivating a food hub and supporting local food with ferocity.
GBCFC will continue to purchase as much local produce and products as possible this season and always. We will also continue to offer special orders for in-store pickup for customers like restaurants and member-owners. We will follow up with producers and customers by mid next week with more details on how the new systems will function.
Once DROPP closes, all former DROPP emails will be shut down. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions or need any help with selling to the co-op or buying from the co-op. Nicole will be taking some time away for a few months and will rejoin us at the co-op later this fall. Mary will be joining the produce team at the co-op as their Assistant Manager, and Shelly will also be taking some necessary downtime.
CALL TO ACTION: We need a food system and we need it to be locally owned. We need to support land and farms that are locally owned so that we have access and a voice in the foods that are cultivated, and we are able to provide food for our communities. We believe that the existence of a vibrant locally owned food hub is paramount to the quality of our lives in the near and distant future. This requires investment – human capital and financial capital. Please reach out to us if you or anyone you know is interested in financing or investing.
OR: If you’re a motivated human with capital, hard work, and ingenuity at your core, and you want to start a food hub here in Northern Nevada, talk to us and we will share everything we’ve learned over the past 12-15 years about food hubs and NV local food systems. We ultimately just want to see and support a thriving local food hub here in our great state!
All our love,
Nicole & Amber Sallaberry
Co-Founders and Managing Sisters