The Takoma Park Silver Spring Coop is a beacon of lies. There, I said it.
It may seem like sacrilege to denigrate the TPSS Co-op, a bastion of liberal egalitarian values, organic produce, crunchy bulk granola, and 7 dollar milk. If you swallowed everything they told you, you would think they made money from the poplar trees nearby, because they are not interested in money, right? Is that why you shop there? Because it makes you feel good and fuzzy inside?
But behind these beautiful and feathery visions of a socialist paradise is a very for-profit business that is sticking it not only to taxpayers, but to Takoma Park.
I’ll first start with their profits. Yes, contrary to what you may think, profits are a big thing, even in a perceived socialist paradise.
In 2015, the TPSS Co-op had annual sales of approximately $8.1 million dollars. The cost of the groceries and other products they sold were about $5.4 million dollars. This means that the TPSS Co-op is marking up their items on average by about 33%. The average supermarket markup is approximately 12%. You still want that $6 bag of shredded cheddar cheese?
According to the 2015 annual report, one of the Co-op’s principles includes “honesty” and “openness.
In the interest of “honesty” and “openness,” shouldn’t the TPSS Co-op put a notice on all their items about how much they are marking up their products? Or would that defeat the image they are trying to portray as some 1960’s free love collective?
To be sure, the TPSS Co-op donates money when customers bring their own bags. 5 cents each bag to be exact. From 2014-2015, the TPSS Co-op donated a whopping $1,172.10 to charity. We should all applaud that a Co-op, which in 2015 had over $2 million in available cash, searched deep in their heart to donate about $1,100 dollars.
The TPSS Co-op’s true colors emerged during their “negotiations” with the Neighborhood Development Council. During those “negotiations,” they requested an unloading area “to accommodate 80-foot trucks, considerably larger than the 65-foot 18 wheelers” they currently use, and that the unloading area be retained for their exclusive use.
The TPSS Co-op also demanded the “exclusion of a wide array of other businesses,” such as wine shops, educational facilities, and restaurants within fifty feet of their store.
And, as if that were not enough, the TPSS Co-op demanded not only that NDC pay for many of the Co-op’s building expansion expenses, but also demanded a provision that would allow it to walk away from the lease if the expansion was not generating satisfactory profits — according to the TPSS Co-op.
This certainly didn’t sound like a negotiation at all. This sounded like something an entitled millennial will tell you after graduating with a Women’s Studies Degree.
Let’s not forget the 7th TPSS Co-op principle: “Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities.”
I don’t know what planet the TPSS Co-op is living on, but they’ve been sticking it to the people of Takoma Park for many years now, and their true colors were revealed during their negotiations with NDC. Their interest in “equality” and “sustainability” exists only on paper.
And to make things worse, they want the government and citizens high off kombucha fumes to protect them by appealing to a false sense of “peace and love, man!”
The TPSS Co-op has to go.