Bettenhausen’s Blunders

Or: Trumpenhausen’s Debacle Decoded

Denial was the common denominator.

From the commencement of Bettenhausen’s catastrophic reign, there never existed reasoning in the careful manner of an owner who impartially weighs up all the evidence. Instead, Bettenhausen and Fiske made decisions based in the manner of immature posers who then clutched for post hoc rationalisations to defend several horrible sophmoric mistakes.

Bettenhausen and Fiske ran the company out of operating capital and have no freaking idea of how to make it back.

This is why brow-beating these deniers with further evidence is unlikely to succeed: their faculty of reason is motivated to defend itself from revising its beliefs.

In our current national political climate large and growing empirical literature is exploring what drives denial. Personality is a factor: people are more likely to deny necessary change if they’re inclined toward hierarchy and against changes to the status quo. This tendency resulted in a perpetual regurgitation of stale statements by Bettenhausen conferring the blame on external causes.

Debates tend to polarize, but it shouldn’t have to be a false choice between a grandiose strategy that includes endless and unmanageable debt, or else complete loss of market share to competitors. But it’s important to register that when resistance, stalemates, and other counter-evidence to the fluffy story promoted by Bettenhausen do occur, there is a penchant for sidestepping them through Coop political ideology and other efforts that find new ways to re-craft the story as being exceptional, dominant, and (soon) triumphant. These new narratives of cheeriness in turn are significant in how they shape the character and nature of Coop culture, discourse, and policy.

It is only in the interest of avoiding such historical blunders in the future—both for the sake of Members’ sweat and C-Share equity, but also for non-member produce growers or employees who may find themselves used as props—that we need be vigilant against the counterfactual historical fantasy put upon us by Melanie Bettenhausen and Colin Fiske. For as long as they push and spin unlikely tales of how just a little more equipment and a little more debt capital will, or, would have ensured prosperity, they continue to con themselves and our membership into more of the same. This will never get the Coop out of the hole they dug.

For three years Melanie Bettenhausen and Colin Fiske ran our Coop without legitimate financial books. During this time they publicly touted a five million dollar remodel on the building we don’t own.

Are they bad people? Probably not. Should they be involved in the NorthCoast Coop going forward?

Out here in the real world, no owner, public or private, would let these two characters back in the building – unless it was Trump Tower.

6 thoughts on “Bettenhausen’s Blunders

  1. Mary Ella Anderson October 12, 2019 — 10:00 pm

    I wish I had something hopeful to say, but I don’t see any hope in restoring what once was a very good co-op. Members are either out of the loop or gullible enough to believe whatever Melanie or Colin claim to be the truth. It’s a sad ending for a once lively institution. I still shop there for the few things I can’t get elsewhere, but I don’t expect it will survive under current leadership. The future of the Arcata Farmers’ Market is also up in the air. They have declared war on the Plaza merchants and demanded the Arcata City Council give the Farmers whatever they want and ignore the merchants.

    Do you think this Trump ethic may be sweeping through California? Money is God and all that matters.


  2. Ding dong, the witch is dead!!


    1. I hope that means what I think it means.


  3. New GM, time to do the happy dance!


  4. Good riddance to bad rubbish!


  5. To avoid speculation and rumor:
    Although there is no lost love for Melanie Bettenhausen by many (Co-op employees and members as well), no one is claiming this as a true victory. Real recovery for the Co-op will only come with re-engaging the membership, recognizing and retaining skilled and caring long-term employees, and clawing back market share from the host of other local natural food stores.
    I’m hopeful that this GM, who has a solid retail management background, will be one factor in righting this ship that has nearly run aground. Industry standard, though, says that operations, management, and personnel corrections (changing company culture) at this scale take 1 1/2 to 2 years to institute. No doubt that the growth needed for these improvements will be painful, too.


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