by Janet Welch, Board President
Facilities Visioning Meeting Recap
In case you missed it, on January 5, the Coop Board held a member meeting at the Uptown Community/Rec Center to talk about our crowded facilities. Eighty or more members showed up to tell us what is important to them in a Co-op facility. We wanted to brainstorm ideas in this opening stage of what we are calling our Co-op Evolution—Where do we go from here with respect to our facilities?
We’ve all experienced times when the parking lot is full, the aisles are congested. But there is more than meets the eye of the average member. Kenna, our General Manager, showed photos of the back room that most shoppers never see, a small, crowded space that is difficult for the staff to maneuver in. Photos of the outside receiving area showed the pallets of food that have to be moved into the store at night and then back outside during the day. Lots of inefficiencies! Our minimal back room space also makes us dependent on daily shipments to keep product on the shelves, which in turn makes us more vulnerable to disruptions in supply. I then presented other issues that impact our options. We are built out to the limits of our property and any increase to the building footprint would mean a smaller parking area. Options for a second story aren’t promising because the building won’t support the load, and the parking issue would simply get worse. Space constraints forced us to move our offices and meeting rooms off site years ago, adding to inefficiencies. One of the most significant constraints is the low-lying topography of the area and issues having to do with city stormwater drains. Did you know that the city has to pump stormwater up to the bay for discharge? When faced with the size and topographic limitations of the existing site, one obvious solution would be to relocate. Unlike the 2001 move from Uptown to our existing location, however, there isn’t a nearby property that has the size and zoning for a store like ours. The most likely option would be in upper Sims Way, out by the Goodwill. And therein lies the problem: we love our location and we love the scale of our store, and retaining those things doesn’t provide many options for relieving our crowding.
Next Steps – Advisory Poll Coming Soon
Much thought and many discussions about these issues have not so far resulted in an obvious solution; it appears that any change must be arise from thinking creatively and making conscious tradeoffs. And that is where the member meeting came in. At that meeting about 80 members worked to create a list prioritizing those qualities that must be a part of the long-range facilities solution, whatever that might be. The plan is to use that list to seed a discussion among a larger group of members through an advisory poll, which you can access either through email—if we have your email address—or in the store. This poll allows each member to vote for the qualities you believe are most important in a facility. If you believe something is missing from the list, you may add it as a write-in, and then it too may be voted on from that point on. In real time, votes will be automatically counted and arranged so that selections with the greatest number of votes rise to the top of the list. Over the course of the two weeks that voting is open, you may change your vote–up to 10 times–if you change your mind or if a new selection is added that you believe is more important. Only the results of your last vote count. If you do not have access to a computer, one will be available in the front of the store near the Board’s board.