NOVEMBER - 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.

November 2018 GM Report

Market Relevance

The expansion is trucking along nicely as we get ever closer to moving into our new addition (currently planned some time after Thanksgiving). And we’ve received lots more positive comments and questions about the remodel. It seems to us that just as staff are getting excited about the next phase, our members are too. The Co-op is now the owner of a nice, heavy-duty utility trailer that can be used by our team to move shelving and light equipment back and forth to our storage units, which will be especially useful during this project.

Our UNFI special order purchases during September—Emergency PreparednessMonth—were almost identical to last year, but they were  approximately double the August special orders. 

Food System Development

Our 3rd quarter reports show that we bought from 127 different local and producers farmers in the past 12 months, and 13% of all our purchases for that time period were local. In the last month, we added 26 local and regional items to our shelves. Two thirds of these items were Washington beer or wine, but we also added Oystercatcher Sourdough bread to our selection, one of their top sellers. Seasonal items to look for are Wild Sage Cold Comfort tea, Olivia gluten-free stuffing, and fresh wildcrafted mushrooms (chanterelles and lobster). We have purchased almost 200 pounds of wildcrafted mushrooms this fall and added two new mushroom wildcrafters during the month. 

A “Local Food Expo/Mixer” was held recently to bring farms and buyers together, sponsored by the Jefferson Local Food System Council and the Eat Local First campaign, two groups in which our staff are actively involved, working to help strengthen the local food system. The opportunity to sign up for CSAs was particularly popular.

Environmental Stewardship

In light of customer questions, the Product Research Committee is reviewing certain sections of the store (cookies, pies and crusts, soaps) for palm oil ingredients, and they are checking for any special verification that the palm oil used.  PRC recently reviewed the updated TAUFIL (The Acceptable and Unacceptable Food Ingredients List) and the brochure is already printed and available for customers, as well as available on our website: guidelines. 

The Co-op constantly looks for ways we can lessen our impact on the environment. One small step we recently took was to switch to a different brand of flag ties, one that is all paper and no plastic. You will now see these in bulk and throughout the store. And our 2017 Sustainability Report is now available online and in the store. The instore version, our “Impact Report,” is shorter and easier to read although still full of information.

Thriving Workplace

Here is an example of Lean thinking in action, at the Member Services Desk:  We had two separate binders that held the signs used for demos, while other assorted demo-related stuff was stashed in other places around the desk area. Staff switched to a filing box, which gave them more room, making items easier to file and pull out, plus they could keep all the other assorted demo bits there. Directions are now on the outside of the filing box for easy reference. This project hit several of the Lean targets for eliminating waste: sort, safe, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain.

All supervisors have been attending a series of trainings for the past two months, taught by our HR staff, Julie and Cara. And all staff will attend the annual staff meeting in November to learn more about accountability in the workplace. In the 2017 Employee Satisfaction Survey, accountability and supervisor training were two key areas our staff felt we could improve upon. The supervisor training involves how to make good decisions when hiring, how to successfully “onboard” new staff and provide job training, and what to do when things aren’t going right, such as how to handle disciplinary actions.


The final cooking class of the year at Market Kitchen was a success! Lots of tasty pies were enjoyed, and afterwards, we saw people shopping throughout the week for the Gluten-Free Pie Crust ingredients. Another kitchen medicine class .“Immune Boosting Tips,” was held just in time for that cold/flu season, and an “Ask the Chef” demo was held in the store, serving a Three Sisters Stew.  If you want to try it yourself, you can get the recipe on our website blog, “The Beet.” 

And the final numbers are in for our Port Townsend School Local Lunch Fundraiser–we raised $14,068! And we are super excited to be able to support good food in our schools with this donation. We also learned a lot from this, our first direct fundraising project, so we have a nice list of things we’ll do differently next time, with the goal of raising even more funds for our community. Finally, as part of a high school health class, in a single day, we gave three tours to groups of 30 students. Each group heard about the importance of organic and non-GMO food, packaging issues, how to read a label, and how to shop with less waste.

During the month of October, the general manager and board president attended the Dove House (a recipient of sponsorship funds from us) Open House to celebrate their recent remodel, and the Marketing Team helped out at the Community Wellness Project Harvest Dinner. Lastly, the Co-op sponsored a community workshop on converting your business to a cooperative, hosted by the Grange and Olympic Co-operative Network, as part of our ongoing commitment to promoting the cooperative business model.