General Manager Blog - May 2019
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.
May General Manager’s Report
The remodeling project continues to truck along—every week we make a little bit more progress and get a little bit closer to finishing the full scope of work. During the past month, we installed and filled all the new coolers in the front half of the store. The north entry way now has two beautiful murals painted by our talented marketing staff. We began relocating the grocery department and demolished the old wellness office … and the list goes on.
This next month will be the last big push as we bring in our new meat and seafood cases as well as the salad bar and relocate to reuse several older cases. We are also planning to rebuild the exit ramp to the courtyard for the new dining room, so it will be a smooth transition to the parking/bike lot. So, while we’re getting closer, we think there is still another 6-8 weeks of work left to do.
In mid-April, we held a 10% off sale on bulk cleaners for three days. During that period, we sold 30% more poundage than the previous weekend. Later this month, we will hold a similar 3-day sale on bulk personal care items.
Food System Development
One of our beautiful new murals in our enclosed entry way is a map of our region showcasing the Food Co-op’s definition of “Local”: items that are grown or produced in our county and the four surrounding counties of Island, Clallam, Mason, and Kitsap.
During the last four quarters, including the first quarter of 2019, we bought from 47 farmers and 82 producers for a grand total of 129 local farmers and producers. That’s seven more than for the same period a year ago. It’s also $1.23 million or 13% of all purchases, a number very similar to last year. In the last month alone, we brought in a new vendor, plus six new Local 5 items, and 14 new Local Washington products, including a new kombucha from Honey Jun.
A customer discovered unacceptable ingredients—MSG and aspartame—in the Sesmark teriyaki brown rice thin crackers. We pulled them from the shelf. Sesmark states on their website that none of their products contain MSG. When they responded to an e-mail inquiry, they said the product has been reformulated and will no longer contain MSG. They did not respond about the ingredient aspartame. (Note: It is Deb’s belief that these ingredients changed since our GMO ingredient audit.)
A staff member noticed that Pane d’Amore shortcakes contain carrageenan. While this is not a new item for us (our policy says we will not accept new products with carrageenan), I contacted Pane d’Amore to suggest some alternatives for the cream that did not contain carrageenan. Pane d’Amore discovered that the cream they are using does not contain carrageenan. Their labels will still show this ingredient until they run through the current printing on hand.
This year we began offering one free place in each of our classes to staff. Interested staff enter their names in a raffle and priority is given to those who have not yet already attended.
This season has been hard for many of us, with the weather moving from snow to extra cold to endless grey skies. It has also hit our staff in a variety of ways, including the loss of a loved one or close friend. We supported our coworkers by bringing in a counselor from our Employee Assistance Program during this time of individual and shared grief.
Every year we complete and submit a Recycling Survey for the State of Washington. This year’s report revealed some interesting data. For instance, we had 59.28 tons of waste (garbage) and 182.94 tons of recycled materials, which includes re-used items. However, in 2017 we recycled 203.6 tons, so it looks like we recycled a little less this year. When we have a bit more time, we will be digging in to see if we can determine why! For our calculations we used the same number for the landfill as last year (59.28 tons) since we had the same number of pick-ups and dumpsters as the previous year. Dumpsters are not individually weighed; instead, DM Disposal uses an average weight per 2-yard dumpster which we apply to the number of pick-ups.
In June we will conduct another “snap shot” waste audit (one day, one time, one dumpster) to see if the contents are similar or different to previous audits.
In honor of Earth Month, we hosted a “Lunch and Learn” composting workshop because “a rind is a terrible thing to waste.” Attendees learned the basics of home composting, plus a few tips and tricks for keeping the compost healthy and vibrant. This class was covered by the Peninsula Daily News with a front-page article and photo in the April 23 issue. Other classes included Springtime Sinus Health and two classes on How to Make Pho.
We sponsored the Port Townsend Marine Science Centers beach cleanup for the fourth year in a row. This event is a great learning opportunity to see how much trash our community can find and haul out of the sea.
Additional sponsorships in April included two different fun runs for kids, the AAUW Kitchen Tour, a school field trip and a soccer celebration.