GM Update - March 2019

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by Kenna S. Eaton

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.

March General Manager’s Report

Market Relevance

February was a tough month for the Co-op and our community. With six inches of snow falling in town, and more elsewhere in the county, we were challenged by staffing limitations, as staff couldn’t get in to work. As a result, we closed early several nights. Fortunately, despite those and other related obstacles (including receiving our orders late, if at all), sales remained just about level from the same time a year ago.

In mid-February, just before we began relocating the check stands, we posted a project update for members on the website (with a link in the weekly e-news). In the end, that work took only three days to complete versus the five planned. During that time, we brought back the deli register, staffed by Front End cashiers, to help facilitate the checking out process. All in all, we felt that this part of the project went even more smoothly than we hoped.

Food System Development

Last year we made two micro loans of $5,000 each to local farms to build season-extending hoop houses. Each farm created their own repayment schedule to accommodate their particular cash flow and needs. This past month Dharma Ridge made their final payment, as planned. We love our farmers!

Our meat department has been making progress on preparing their newly expanded work room. At the producers’ meeting back in March 2017, our local meat producers reiterated their need for the Co-op to do a better job purchasing and selling their products. They felt, and we agreed, that an expanded, more visible selection of local meat could help them stay on their farms, continuing to regenerate their land.

During the past month, we brought in one new local item, Midori Hot Wax fermented pepper sauce. This coincided with a board demo, so the hot sauce got a great start.  Additionally, there were seven new local-WA items: five beers, one new Ellenos yogurt, and a new product from Oly Cultures—Salish Sea Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter.  And on a side note, our fair-trade annual sales increased from 2.6%—which had been consistent for several years—to 2.9% in 2018.  Fran’s, a Seattle based company, switched to fair-trade chocolate in 2018, and several of their products became certified organic as well. 

Thriving Workplace

We had lots of new faces on staff at the Co-op this past month, including several staff who took on new work in different departments. Since the New Year, we have had three internal promotions and one transition from temporary to regular staff.

In mid-February, our managers met with our board of directors to collaborate on the next step in revising our mission and principles. Since the mission describes the work that we do—our purpose—the board felt that the people who work the most with the mission were key to a successful revision. (Note: the board had spent the previous several months soliciting input from staff and member-owners at meetings and in the store.)

Environmental Stewardship

Throughout our project, we’ve worked to recycle and reuse the materials we remove. For example, the general contractors have consistently reused plywood concrete forms as sheathing for our new walls. Panels from our old walk-in produce cooler and freezer have been passed on to local farms for re-use. Old bulk bins have been cleaned and passed on to the deli for reuse. Old cooler shelving has been sterilized and reused in another cooler. All old lighting, small equipment, or shelving not being re-used by us has either been given to staff or put out for the taking. Our old Wellness shelving will be going to a regional coop (we’re not sure which one yet). And the list goes on. While we may not be able to accurately measure the total impact of this practice, we know it feels good to reduce, reuse, and recycle in our community.

Outreach

We started this month by completing our satsuma fundraiser that began in December. We raised a total of $1256 for the Northwest Watershed Institute’s Annual Plant-a-thon, the most that we have raised yet. Families gathered on February 3rd from all over Jefferson County at the Concerts in the Barn site in Chimacum to plant 5,000 native trees and shrubs.

This month we began running two Cooking with the Co-Op classes at the Market Kitchen and sold out both. Due to the “snowpocalypse,” we had to reschedule our Zero Waste Living class, which has since sold out for the new March 30th date. 

Members have really been appreciating the extra content provided in the weekly email focusing on community outreach projects, including a description each month of one of our Beans for Bags recipients. This month we also featured a look back at the Blue Heron orchard-mulching party in January, which we again supported with a matching donation of $500.

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