Dilke Co-op to close its doors after 101 years

By Joel van der Veen

DILKE — After more than a century of serving local customers, the Dilke Co-operative Association is sputtering to a halt.

May 10 is the final day of operations for the Co-op, though most of its services have already wound up and stock is largely cleared out.

The Co-op’s properties — including a grocery store, hardware store, lumberyard, cardlock and oil storage building — went up for sale in an online auction that ended May 1.

Board president Trevor Maerz said the association was forced to address its dire financial situation late last year.

“Our cash flow disappeared on us,” he said, adding that attempts to increase their line of credit were also unsuccessful. “We were basically presented with two options: dissolve or run on a cash basis.”

A public meeting was held in January, packing the village hall, and a vote on dissolution was taken the next month, with 86 per cent in favour.

Maerz, 60, said it was a difficult decision for the board, but ultimately, inevitable given the decline in business.

“You knew there was no alternative,” he said. “You can’t keep stuff open for people that just want to buy a jug of milk and a tub of margarine every week.”

“It was a hard decision, and just a shame to see something else leaving small-town Saskatchewan. . . It’s been a tough winter, hard on the ol’ psyche.”

The association has been in operation since 1916, and continued to provide a full line of services even as patronage dwindled, including bulk fuel sales. The grocery store also houses the village post office.

The Dilke Co-op had roughly 120 active members, though Maerz estimated that maybe a third of those were regular, year-round customers.

The village has around 75 residents, but the area sees increased traffic in the summer as tourists and cabin owners flock to nearby Last Mountain Lake.

Maerz said the population explodes for about three months of the year, adding, “It’s the other nine that kills us.”

For the full story, please see the May 8 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

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