As the person who was president of the Creekside Co-op Board when Patti Demchuk was hired, I can appreciate the degree of courage it took for her to take on the position of general manager in April 2017. She jumped into a very difficult situation and has tried her best to handle it. Like Weavers Way’s Kathryn Worley (who served as our interim General Manager before Patti came on), Patti had fire after fire to put out with many fires still burning.
I can also empathize with Patti’s desire to stay positive in the face of almost insurmountable odds. However, I feel it’s important for all of us in the cooperative community to be as honest and transparent in our communications as we can be. Heaven knows we have enough mendacity in other parts of our society, eh?
Patti’s statement that Creekside Co-op “continues to grow and flourish” (Page 18 of the July, 2018 Shuttle) just doesn’t ring true, unfortunately. Yes, the establishment of Creekside in 2012 made a big difference in the desultory business district of Elkins Park. A number of businesses opened there after the co-op did.
But sales at the co-op have declined steadily year over year since the co-op’s founding and are currently at unsustainable levels, according to reports to the membership from current board president Bill Hyman.
Creekside makes interest-only payments to its lenders just to stay afloat and needed to work out an arrangement with its mortgage provider over the summer to make no payments at all in an attempt to ease its cash crunch. The operation is consistently behind in paying vendors and suffers from a systemic lack of support from its members.
As someone who put in three and a half years on the Creekside Co-op board, two and a half of them as president, I feel the pain of anyone who is trying their damnedest to make a cooperatively owned grocery store work in Elkins Park. Maybe Creekside will survive. I hope for the good of our community, especially our children, that it does survive.
I do think though that Patti should focus on making more credible, fully transparent statements about the co-op’s condition, not only to its members, but to the community at large, than the one that was published in the July Shuttle.