Few 70-year-olds mark their birthdays with a name change and a growth spurt, but the Delmas Co-op is a special case.
Starting Feb. 24, the co-op will be renamed Haida Gwaii Consumers Co-operative Association — an all-island name to better reflect the fact that with a grocery store and building supply in Masset and a second grocery store in Skidegate, the co-op serves residents across Haida Gwaii.
Speaking to the nearly 100 people who packed the Masset legion for Sunday’s annual general meeting, co-op president Bob Isaacs said member-owners can look forward to a promising, prosperous future.
All together, the co-op rang in a record $13,749,700 in sales over the last fiscal year — nearly $1.2 million more than the previous year.
For member-owners, better sales also mean a boost in equity and cash returns.
Over the current fiscal year, they will see a four per cent return on their co-op purchases, which is a full point higher than last year. In total, $835,786 has been allocated for member returns.
While the bulk of the co-op’s sales still come from its larger grocery store and building supply in Masset, the Skidegate store saw higher growth — its sales were up 56 per cent over last year, compared with a 32 per cent boost in Masset.
Richard Clarmont, the co-op’s general manager, said he was also pleased to announce that the co-op is debt-free, having fully retired the mortgage on its six-year-old Masset food store, nearly two years ahead of schedule.
That milestone was marked in September with a mortgage-burning ceremony at the co-op’s anniversary barbecue.
Bret Johnston, the co-op’s vice president, said progress has been slow on efforts to enlarge the Skidegate store, which will require a new lease agreement proposal from Gwalaagaa Naay Corporation and the Skidegate Band Council.
But Johnston also reported that the co-op was able to buy the property next to the Masset building supply.
The existing house on the property will be torn down in the next six to eight weeks, he said, giving the home centre room for a future expansion.
When it comes into effect, the Haida Gwaii Co-op’s name change will be the second one in its history.
Founded as the Masset Consumers Co-operative Association in 1945, the co-op voted for a broader name six years later, with “Delmas Co-operative Association” referring to the Masset and Delkatla communities.
Part of the Federated Co-operative Limited, the co-op is part of a supply and distribution network that covers much of western Canada.