GM Update: June 2019
Seems like summer might finally be here, and with it the wrap-up of our project. We named our expansion/remodel project “digging in” because we felt that phrase represented both our decision to literally dig into our property to make room for us to grow and our decision to stay in this location and dig in, metaphorically speaking. The investment we’ve made in this location means that we’re here for the long haul. When I’m asked how long that might be, I cannot give a definitive answer, but I believe this will enable us do our daily work and let you shop here comfortably for 7-10 years or more, depending on how fast our membership grows. And in the rapidly evolving grocery world, 7-10 years is a substantial amount of time.
We waited a long time before deciding to dig in, and then we waited even longer for the design process, permitting, and finally construction to begin. An unexpected benefit of waiting was that we were able to keep running a tight operation and we kept on being profitable. As a cooperative, we can declare our profits as a dividend for our owners, which in turn enables us to keep some of that money to reinvest into our business, which we did with this project—50% was financed by the bank and 50% came from our savings. Investing in our facilities was fiscally smart and, due to careful planning, affordable. And our saving and planning meant that we didn’t need to raise prices to pay for the work (a rumor that is floating around town which is simply not true). If our prices increased at all in the past year, it was due to the cost of the products increasing, which reflects the costs of tariffs, wars, natural disasters, and so on.
In June our construction team will leave us. Pearson’s Construction has worked hard to ensure we could stay open every day during the project. The team was professional, polite, and a pleasure to work with—we will miss them! We hope in the next few months to get our “permanent occupancy” permit as well as to move on with making the place feel homier with graphics and signs that reflect “where the land meets the sea”—a theme you can see in the colors and images throughout the store. Our floors will get refinished with a simple grinding, honing, and polishing technique that will allow them to breathe and do their thing, oh so naturally! And we will work on tinkering with those areas of the store that we didn’t get quite right.
Many of the changes we made were designed to make working in the store easier: wider aisles so we can stock the shelves, deeper shelves to hold full cases, new energy-efficient equipment, more back-room space for processing, a larger staff break room, and a second staff bathroom to minimize wait times. Some of those changes had a secondary benefit of making it easier to shop as well. By improving the store for staff, we think we improved the store for customers—a true win-win.
And yes, we’re planning a grand re-opening party for our members, a “thank you” for your patience and support throughout the project. We’re hoping to have food, fun, local vendors, some special deals, and store tours. Keep a lookout for the announcement and mark the date on your calendar. I look forward to seeing you then and showing you what we have accomplished together!