October General Manager's Blog

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—what we want to accomplish—and they are what makes us different from a regular grocery store. We publish these reports as a blog to keep our member-owners up to date on what we are doing. This spring, the board finished reviewing and revising our Ends with the help and suggestions of our staff and our members.

The reports are organized by our five Ends, although not all are discussed in every report. Our refreshed Ends say that, as a result of all we do—

-    Our community is well-served by a strong cooperative grocery store, integral to the lives of our customers, our farmers, and our producers.

-    Our community has a resilient local and regional food economy, supported by our Co-op and our community partners.

-    Our staff and board have the knowledge, skills, and passion to make our cooperative thrive.

-    Our members and customers are proud to shop at a local cooperative grocery that is working to reduce its impact on the environment.

-    Our community is informed, engaged, and empowered to join us in making a difference.

October 2018 GM Report

Market Relevance

September was Emergency Preparedness Month both at the Co-op and throughout the country. This year we updated our materials to help users be prepared for any emergency, and we ran our annual special order program, which allows our members to stock up on pantry basics—not just for an emergency but for every day. Final numbers are not in, but the special orders kept staff pretty busy throughout the month. Overall sales for the month (not just EP) remained fairly flat compared to last year, not surprising with the disruptions caused by the expansion work.

New shelving, sinks, and small equipment all began arriving this month. We are renting a “Box”—basically a shipping container—to hold everything, located behind the facilities shop. In a great expression of team work, staff and the general contractor are working together to get all the new equipment relocated and stashed safely away, to be ready when needed.

Work on updating our shelf signs has begun, and some signage debuted in October. These new signs should be cleaner, simpler, and easier to produce as well as read and locate.

Food System Development

In the previous month, we brought in 20 new local or regional items. Half of those items were new beers or wines, two from PT Vineyards. For anyone looking for gluten free, we brought in the entire line of Olivia gluten-free breads and bread crumbs, which are made in Everett.  We will be bringing in gluten-free stuffing for the holidays. Oh, yes, we have gluten-free Olivia pies as well.

Our local blueberry season this year was a bit shorter than 2017. We sold just under 2.5 tons of fresh Finnriver blueberries in 2018, but were unsuccessful in our attempts to get later-season berries from either Hunter’s Moon Farm on Whidbey Island or Dungeness Meadow Farm in Sequim. 

At the quarterly LandWorks meeting in September, we decided our project for 4th quarter of 2018 would be to plan a sustainable forestry summit/symposium for 2019. 

Environmental Stewardship

We submitted out 2017 Sustainability Report to the Sustainable Food Trade Association (SFTA) in September. A complete copy is included with the Global End A4 report in this October’s board packet and a consumer-facing version will be published this fall. Our 2017 goal for organically grown food was to exceed $6.5 million in sales—which we achieved—and in 2018 we are pushing for $7 million, specifically by increasing our organic bulk sales to 70% of that department’s total.

Thriving Workplace

In our ongoing preparation for changes in our IT department, we invited an NCG (National Cooperative Grocer) staff person to come conduct a mini-audit of our five critical areas: security, Point of Sale system (cash registers), server maintenance, cloud maintenance, and telecommunications. We expect a full report by the end of October, but early indications are that we are on solid ground thanks to our IT staff.

Outreach

At their last meeting, the Product Research Committee looked at the ingredients of “natural” baby wipes and dish soaps, in order to help answer customer questions.

Our marketing team was super hard at work in September. Probably their biggest project was finalizing our new look and feel, which includes fonts, colors, images and designs. Staff and board members had an opportunity to be involved along the way, as we worked on finding the right pieces for a look that both fits our Co-op and is easy to use. We’re pretty sure we nailed it, and members will start seeing those attributes in October, both on our recently revamped web site (another BIG project) as well as all our grocery totes, cups, aprons, shopping baskets, and signs throughout the store. Phew!

 

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Kenna S. Eaton - General Manager