General Manager’s Blog: June update on our Ends

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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.

 

June General Manager’s Report

Market Relevance

The Thursday Salmon Cart will return, beginning the week of June 13th, and it will be located, just as before, on the south side of the store, facing the water. Please remember to park thoughtfully and not at our neighbors the Victorian Barbershop or Penny Saver.

Our project is hitting the final construction stages, and we fully expect the construction crew to be done within the next few weeks. During the past month, we tore down and rebuilt all the grocery aisles, remodeled the food service counters and installed the food bar, and brought in the new meat cooler, freezer, and seafood cases. (You can see elapsed-time videos of some of this after-hours work on our website, under Expansion Updates—https://www.foodcoop.coop/updates.)

This week we remounted the Community Bulletin Boards and the Board’s board. Next, we’ll finish the personal care nook, dining area, and access to the south side, as well as refinish the store floors. This stage also includes adding in-store signage for the aisles and walls, plus  outside signage and lights. And then we’re looking forward to refinishing the floors before celebrating with a grand re-opening party in August.

Food System Development

Following up on last month’s Food System Development report to the board, which had a supplemental report on Jacob’s work to source local meat, here are some preliminary numbers comparing January-April 2018 with January-April 2019. Local 5 meat sales are up 9%, while organic meat sales are up 7%, and Local WA sales are about the same. When we compared Local 5 purchases for the same period, they were up 21%. Our Local 5 meat and seafood producers include Cape Cleare, Westbrook, Short’s, Nash’s, SpringRain, and Egg & I pork—this last new as of December. For 2018, we had three new local vendors: Better Living Through Cookies, Honey Honey Soap, and Oystercatcher Bakery (now Little Red Hen), with 59 new products overall.  We also brought in additional items from Iggy’s, Ancient Grains, Crust, and several of our local wine and cider producers. A notable local item returning to the Co-op is Nash’s camelina oil—grown, processed, and pressed in Sequim. They hope to produce enough to keep it stocked in our store all year. 

Thriving Workplace

Our HR team has been working hard to fill all open positions at the Co-op, making sure we have the staff to support all our programs, including the new food bar. Here’s some data for the period 4/1/19 – 5/24/19 regarding job openings and jobs filled, including the job fair results: 

·         13 positions opened

·         10 filled

·         3 in process

·         Of the 10 filled, one was filled internally and one was a re-hire (to date in 2019, we’ve had 3 full-time rehires)

And during the deli closure, our staff FUN committee brought in enough food to feed our staff for three days!

Environmental Stewardship

In 2018 we reduced our total annual propane use by 18%. This may be due to relocating our propane tanks closer to the kitchen (the biggest user) early on in our project, back in April 2018. There may have been an undetectable minor leak in the underground lines that was remedied when we moved the tanks from the north to the south side of the store.

Throughout the construction project, we have looked for ways to minimize our contribution to the landfill by either giving away or selling any fixtures we no longer need. Recently, we donated multiple pallets of used grocery shelving to the Orcas and San Juan Food Co-ops as well as to Nash’s Farm Store.

Due to the extra work of the final stages of the remodel, the Product Research Committee (PRC) is still in the process of reviewing Garden of Life practices and policies as well as contacting them with questions regarding their sourcing.

Outreach

May was a busy month for our marketing team as they put together the annual report, materials for the annual member meeting, and materials for the board election. They also painted murals, supervised painters, planned in-store signage, etc., generally working to ensure that both our interior and exterior design decisions reflect the Co-op’s ethos. Despite all this remodel work, they made time for outreach: we continued to run cooking and health classes; sponsored the Rhody Cake Picnic, a chef demo by Sidonie Maroon at the Artisan Food Fest at the Farmers Market; and acted as the food sponsor of a fundraiser for JUMP, the Jefferson Universal Movement Playground, the first accessible and inclusive playground in the county.

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