by Kenna S. Eaton
Each month, I report to the board on how we are progressing on our long-term goals, which we call our Ends. These Ends reflect our aspirations and what we want to accomplish. They are one way in which we are different from a regular grocery store. We thought we would start publishing these reports as a blog to keep our member-owners up to date on what we are doing.
The reports are organized by our five Ends, although not all are discussed in every report. Our Ends say that, as a result of all we do—
- We will be the market of choice for our community to access local, organic, and non-GMO products.
- We will create a vibrant local and regional food system by providing our community with a year-round supply of food sold at prices that are fair to both consumers and producers.
- We will have an engaged staff and board that use their expanding knowledge and skills to create a thriving workplace.
- Our operations will be environmentally sustainable for the benefit of our members, community, and the planet.
- Our members will be knowledgeable about the products they consume, the connection between food choices and personal health, and environmentally sustainable practices.
April 2017 GM Report
Market of Choice
MADay—This year, staff decided to expand our spring Member Appreciation Day to two weeks in order to alleviate overcrowding in the store and parking lot, and the response from members was overwhelmingly positive. Many members appreciated the extra time to plan how to use their 10% discount.
Sales were strong for the entire two weeks, exceeding projections, as were the discount totals. At this time, we do not expect to run another two-week MAD this fall; instead, we plan to try different types of “one day only” deals to help strengthen sales and/or reduce inventory during construction.
Nonmember Surcharge—As of January 1, shoppers are no longer required to be a member to avoid a 10% surcharge when they shop at The Co-op. Interestingly, both new memberships and payments of Capital Investments by existing members have not changed much compared to last year. We appreciate that our community really does understand the value of investing in their locally-owned grocery store to foster wider economic change.
Local Food System
Six years ago, one of my first tasks as a new GM was to work with the board, staff, and members to craft our strategic plan. One item we all easily agreed upon was the need to strengthen the local food system. In fact, it was so important to us we even titled one of our Ends after it, and today it remains key—because we believe that by strengthening the local food shed, we are in turn strengthening the local economy.
To help make progress in that direction, we created a new position—“local cultivator”—responsible for sourcing new products with an emphasis on local and regional products. Brendon O’Shea filled that role for years, and we couldn’t have come as far as we have in growing our local product selection without his invaluable help.
Brendon left his position at the Co-op in mid-March, and he will be missed. However, we’ve decided to leave the position vacant for now in order to try something different. Store managers, buyers, and I are deeply committed to sourcing and selling locally-produced product, so instead of relying on just one person to increase the amount of local and regional products, each department will be involved. To support this work, staff who work directly with local vendors will be meeting with me in the next few weeks to discuss the opportunities and challenges that lay before us as we all work towards being better local cultivators—each sharing in that responsibility to strengthen the local food system and the local economy can prosper. As just one step in this new direction, the entire produce department recently went to tour Midori Farm.
Outreach & Education
This spring we are once again sponsoring the culinary program at Dove House Advocacy Services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and general crime. The classes focus on growing skills in cooking with whole foods, such as The Co-op sells.
We are also again sponsoring the “Fresh Bucks” and “Gimme 5” programs at the Jefferson County Farmers Markets, where qualifying customers can increase their buying power for certain food items purchased at the weekly markets.
In March, we hosted a Girl Scout troop for a “Cooking with Sidonie” class. The scouts learned to make KuKu, a dish for the Persian New Year. Recipe and instructions for preparing KuKu are included in the spring issue of The Commons.
The Food Co-op will be, for the third year, sponsoring the spring Washington Coast Cleanup Day—scheduled this year for Saturday April 29, from noon to 4 pm. Community members who volunteer to clean up a section of our local beaches may come to The Co-op on that day to sign in and pick up trash bags and gloves. After cleaning, they return to the Coop to have their trash and treasure weighed and measured. These volunteers will receive a $5 coupon good for a treat at The Co-op. Happy Earth day and month to all of us!