STRATEGIC PLANNING: AN UPDATE by Kenna Eaton, General Manager
Thanks to all of our owners who joined us for our Member Forum on Sunday April 15th. We had some wonderful one-on-one, in-depth conversations and received some very interesting feedback.
The forum was intended to be a “values” check, a place to converse about our Co-op and one more step in gathering information for our strategic plan. The people who attended gave us good responses and took their their time to really think through what they wanted to say. There was a level of seriousness and respect that was wonderful to see and hear. We had established six different stations, set up at the P.T. Community Center, each one asking participants to focus their feedback on a different aspect of our Co-op. At the station I was positioned titled, “The Store,” board member Sally Lovell and I asked our owners what they wanted to see happen in our store. The options ranged from keeping it simple– nothing fancy, really all we need is a place to buy our whole foods without a lot of frills– to the more nuanced– keep the basics AND offer choices that adhere to Co-op values in a facility that can handle our continued growth and member preferences– to the most complex– be a community hub, offer a full service store AND expand the store to enhance our Co-op as a gathering place.
Most of our owners felt that the Co-op already is a community hub and many supported the remodel of the deli area, adding seating. Some liked our deli as is and didn’t want it to grow. Some were worried about our store being located in a flood and tsunami zone. Some specifically wanted wider aisles and less crowding while shopping, not to mention those that commented on the importance of increasing the number of restrooms in the store. Finally, as one member said, “We are already growing, so it’s not a question of whether, but how.”
The other conversation stations at the Forum focused on: Advocacy and Education; Local Food; Environmental Sustainability; Building Resiliency; and a general question regarding our level of community investment: In essence should we focus on running a grocery store or doing more to lead the growth in the local economy? Generally our members urged us to keep doing what we’re doing, be careful, don’t waste resources, work with others AND be more than just a grocery store. Well, at least that’s my take on what I heard. The beautiful thing about a Co-op is that we all hear something a bit different, which makes for some rich and juicy conversations!
Next, the Strategic Planning Committee and Board of Directors will take what we’ve heard, mix it with the randomly selected owner survey results; owner feedback from daily conversations and the time board members spent at the Alcove; and information from facilitated focus group responses– we’ll stir and condense all this input into what we think will be our best strategic direction. It’s a process, one for which we don’t have a set completion date. We plan to share our progress-to-date with Co-op owners at our Annual Meeting on June 3rd. Afterward that we’ll keep working with the information we have to create a formal proposal we can bring back to owners for your ‘nod’ of approval, hopefully in the early fall.
Please plan on joining us at our Annual Meeting, Sunday June 3rd at the Port Townsend Community Rec Center from 5-7:30pm. For details click here.