GM Update: July 2019

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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. Last year, 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.

 

July General Manager’s Report

Market Relevance

Good news: we will be ready to open the new dining area soon! Our project is in the winding-down phase, with the resets completed and the floor refinished. Now we are moving into the next stage, adjusting to our new work flow and to the new trends in customer shopping habits. We are very pleased with the preliminary results, and members continue to be very positive about most everything. As soon as the dining area is inspected by the county, we’ll be ready to open it.

We are looking forward to our “Thank you” party on Friday August 16 between 3 and 6 pm, when we will offer back-room tours (complete with an opportunity to quiz the GM), raffles and prizes, and awesome deals on awesome products—I even hear there’s a distinct possibility of free cake!

This year there is a new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant opportunity through the Washington Food Industry Association (WFIA) that we are excited to be participating in. If the grant is awarded, we will be able to offer our SNAP recipients the option to stretch their benefit dollars and improve their diet through free or reduced cost produce. We will find out if this grant is approved later this summer.

Food System Development

While our produce team is loving their new equipment, tools, and systems, we are hearing that our farmers love that we have incentivized early season production by paying them more for crops produced earlier than normal. We think this is a win-win for shoppers and farmers alike.

Recently, we added a cool new “Look What’s Local” sign—right by the fruit washing sink—that holds copies of the local produce calendar for July through September. Not only does the calendar list what we carry and when, but also which farm is our primary source. The same calendar is included in the summer issue of the Commons.

In the last month, we brought in 31 new Local WA products from existing vendors: 1 wine, 9 beers, 8 frozen items, 2 meats, and 11 personal care items. The personal care items are line extensions from Island Thyme and Uncle Harry’s. The frozen items are Upside Down ice cream, from Seattle, with some of the proceeds benefitting the Special Olympics, and Northwest Wild organic fruits. We also brought in four new Local 5 items: Iggy’s Salish Nettle Kombucha and Whidbey Island 3-pack ice cream bars. Iggy’s recently expanded their Bainbridge Island facility, and as a result of efficiencies gained, have been able to reduce the price on their packaged kvass and kombuchas as well as their kegs of kombucha. 

Continuing our tracking of Local 5 meat, sales are up 17% and purchases are up 27% compared to last year.  We featured Local 5 fresh meats with a 10% discount at the register June 21-23. 

Thriving Workplace

Last month Laura and Cha—produce manager and team leader—were able to join other produce staff from the Northwest on a tour of stone fruit farms in California. Not only was it an action-packed visit of many different facilities, they learned a lot about fruit production, picking, and storage. They then gave presentations about what they learned to both their own and the Front-End team meetings in June.

Environmental Stewardship

Electricity usage is one of many metrics we measure at the Co-op. In 2018, our kilowatt hours slightly increased to 542,160, 0.37% over 2017. To mitigate our overall impact, we purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) which offset our electrical usage and which support the development of renewable energy projects delivering clean energy to the North American power grid. The 315 RECs we purchased in the past year offset our electrical usage by 60%. For this year, we are increasing that amount to 75% of 2018 usage.

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Outreach

Since September 2013, we have been giving the Port Townsend Head Start Program organic milk to help offset the cost of feeding the kids, donating $8,849 worth of milk so far. While this makes us feel warm and fuzzy, we realized we hadn’t done a good job of telling that story. This year our marketing manager, Andrea, and their Nutrition Program director, Delana, came up with a few ways to share this with our community. They created some fun signage to put in the new classrooms at the Salish Coast Elementary which read “Did you know our milk is Organic?” along with a cute illustration of a milk jug and a note that the milk is “Proudly donated by The Food Co-op.” We will be telling this story in our fall issue of the Commons and in our e-newsletter as well.