General Managers Blog- December

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.

December 2018 GM Report

Market Relevance

We continue to make progress with our expansion and are excited about moving on to Phase 2, when we will move into the addition and commence work inside the store. I have been updating members monthly on our website, but with this next phase—which includes the temporary relocation of the main entrance—we sent an email update to all members. In the meantime, we will continue to pull up tile in all parts of the store in preparation for all the coming phases.

Food System Development

During the last month, the Co-op has brought in 18 new local and/or regional products. Three were local: a new snack size of CB’s pumpkin seeds and two new Finnriver hard ciders—Golden Russet and Fire Barrel. We expanded our offerings in the Wellness Department with new items from Island Thyme, on Orcas Island, and Sea Witch Botanicals, in Bellingham. 

During our most recent local cultivators meeting, we reviewed year-to-date local sales and compared them to the same time period in 2017. Excluding produce, local sales for the store are consistent at 8% for both time periods. Numbers for the Produce Department were not available at this time for comparison.  Some departments decreased in 2018, especially chill, with the largest difference due to the gap in local egg production. Several departments increased their local sales:  books/cards by 12%, bulk by 7%, floral by over 200%, grocery by 5%, and supplements by 30%. Bulk and grocery increased in part due to a more consistent supply of granola from Mirracole Morsels. Wellness has focused on local cards in the last two quarters. Floral had more local flower and start choices in 2018. And while Mountain Spirit Kick Ass tincture is still our top local supplement, the sales of Thrive protein powders drove the increase for supplements in 2018. 

Environmental Stewardship

Using our 2017 Sustainability Report, we created a smaller, more reader-friendly version that I am calling the Impact Report. The Impact Report consists of 11 chapters—each one focusing on a specific area of sustainability from organics to governance—that highlight our metrics with easy-to-read information and infographics. Chapters will be published through social media and online, with hard copies available in the store.

Our marketing manager, Andrea S, was invited to be on a panel at a recent Chamber of Commerce luncheon, “Seed to Spoon Agri-Business Development in Jefferson County.” The panelists included people who work at or own the following businesses and organizations: Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Hopscotch Farm & Cannery, Jefferson County Farmers Markets, WSU Small Farms Program, and Sprits Bar & Grill (at the Old Alcohol Plant). They discussed how they are actively working to strengthen the local economy and lessen their impact on the environment.

Thriving Workplace

As part of our strategy to “Strengthen and develop systems that inspire our staff…cooperate effectively and have fun!” we closed early in November for a fun filled, educational staff meeting, and this month we closed early for our annual staff holiday party. At the staff meeting, we were also able, for the 4th year in a row, to pay out a “gain share” (profit share) to our staff based on the previous 12 months profitability.

Outreach

The Product Research Committee discussed the “Proposition 65” warning labels required on many products that are sold in California. The labels have begun appearing on products sold in our state that were manufactured in California. Here is an example of a bread label: “WARNING:  Consuming this product can expose you to chemicals including acrylamide, which are known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/food. Acrylamide is not added to this product but is created by the normal baking or frying process and increases when the product is toasted. The FDS does not advise people to stop eating baked, toasted or fried bakery products.” Naturally, customers are asking questions, so PRC has authored an article that will appear in the January Commons. (Nothing has changed with these products; the manufacturers have simply added labels to protect themselves from possible lawsuits.)

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-Kenna Eaton - General Manager