General Manager’s Blog - January 2019

By: Kenna Eaton, General Manager

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.

January GM Report

Market Relevance

Recently the Co-op won the Leader’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Produce for the second year in a row, as well as second place for Best Grocery and second place for Best Vegetarian Meal in Jefferson County. On the flip side, we have been experiencing serious “out of stock” problems with our primary distributor, UNFI, some of which is attributable to seasonal shifts, some to volatility of customer demand, and some to small companies being purchased by larger corporations and undergoing label changes, which can make the product unavailable for awhile. We do not have a date of when this situation might improve.

Also, the county Heath Department made one of their biannual audits this past month. We had many kudos from the inspector and a few areas where we need to tighten up. In all, we lost five points, which will be posted online and in the Leader.

December was all about occupying our new workspace. It’s been by turns super fun and super challenging as we find new ways to do our work and discover what works and what doesn’t. We closed the dining area on December 20, so we could work on improving the strength and quantity of the electrical supply in that room. We covered the windows with insulation and pulled the shades down before moving in our bulk bins. The Wellness Department has moved into the old bulk area, which has a refreshing new coat of paint and refinished floors. Customers can expect product to move around the store as work progresses, keeping everyone on their toes. The next big project is constructing a new north entrance.

Food System Development

Over the last month, we brought in six new “Local 5” products and eight new “Local Washington” products. Some are seasonal and available for just a short time. There were two new local vendors, Honey Honey Soap, crafted in Port Ludlow, and Egg & I Pork. We won’t see the Egg & I pork on the shelf right away because we purchased what are called “primals,” larger pieces that we will cut into smaller pieces ourselves. Our new meat department will have to be operating before we can stock and cut the pork products from this local vendor. 

Farm meetings took place over this past month. Our produce manager met with each farm to review 2018, our anticipated needs for 2019, and how we can work together to make it a productive year for all. We appreciate our diverse farms and those extremely dedicated farmers who make it all work!

Starting in the new year, Andrea S., our marketing manager, will replace Laura L. at the “Eat Local First” marketing meetings. Laura will continue her work with the Jefferson Local Food System Council. During ELF’s first year, Laura helped them make progress on their vision, mission, and campaign goals, and now Andrea is excited to help them take it to the next level.

Thriving Workplace

Much of the end of the year was taken up with ensuring that all of our staff had access to the information they need to make key decisions about their 2019 benefits package. While the health and dental benefits stayed about the same, we added long-term disability and a 401K plan, both of which required our staff to learn about the benefits and make some decisions. To facilitate this transition, we a held a two day “fair,” where all staff had an opportunity to meet representatives from the various companies, ask questions, and get enrolled.

Outreach

We made a gift of $500 to the Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) Full Circle Fund Drive. The FCI currently supports 115 cooperative startups, offering their services for little or no charge. In the 13 years FCI has been at this work, they have assisted over 140 new co-ops with 72% of them remaining in business today. If you are not familiar with their work, check out https://www.fci.coop/ for a rundown on what they do.

Our classes for the first quarter of 2019 have been posted on line and sent out to members. We’re offering several new classes, including “Healthy Transitions Winter Reset” and “Healthy Meals On A Budget.” New this spring will be tiered pricing for some of our classes, with discounts available for members. Members can sign up either through the weekly online e-flyer or at our website www.foodcoop.coop/aboutclasses.

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The Real Food Show came to Salish Coast and Chimacum Elementary schools on January 11. The Food Co-op is sponsoring this fun 35-minute routine, which includes audience participation, visual aids, comedy, juggling, and other circus skills that teach, inspire, and motivate children to make healthy food and lifestyle choices.