|GM Report: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!|
By Sabine Rhyne
I remember how it was when we moved into this new store, and everything was fresh and different. Being creatures of habit, change of this magnitude is hard, and some of you, four years later, are still adjusting to a different space with more stuff. And now, here we go, changing it all around again! It’s true, we will be giving you some things to adjust to, but it is in order to make the store a little more shopper-friendly. We thought we could start by doing a few things without moving equipment around—without incurring the cost of refrigeration and plumbing just yet—as some of our more ambitious plans would require that. So in the meantime, we will be moving products in such a way as to be more intuitive to shop. You may have noticed that we already swapped the smoked seafood in the meat aisle closer to the seafood counter, and the bacon closer to the eggs back in late June.
The plan for center-store grocery is to do most of the work overnight, from August 14 to 18, with partial relocations from one aisle to another, progressively, until we make our way through the center aisles. Some related changes will also follow through Wellness, as we move some product categories around. In fact, we are so inspired to make changes that you will also see some adjustments in the freezer and bulk sections in the fall. We will have folks on hand to direct you to products as we move things – and will give you signs and maps to assist you as well. Thank you for your patience, and enjoy the hunt!
Speaking of changes, I am sure you have all adjusted to Ann Wright’s new leadership in the front end. We have been so lucky to have such a capable and friendly individual, with so much history and knowledge about our Co-op, our community, and co-ops in general, to take on a very important part of our organization. We’ve also been thrilled with our front-end staff, including both long time familiar faces and new friendly faces with lots of experience. I hope you have enjoyed good moments with them as you complete your shopping.
Which brings me to a related topic: bags! I mentioned a few months ago that we had launched a Waste Stream Task Force made up of staff from all corners of the store to analyze our performance with various waste options, and to come up with ways to improve. We have met with representatives from our trash hauler and our recycling hauler, and done a fair amount of research into the current state of affairs regarding waste-stream issues. We have instituted a variety of new internal measures and have embarked on an educational campaign with our staff to deepen our understanding of our actions—or inactions—and what happens next. Now, we are beginning to turn our attention to processes that you might participate in. We have encouraged the re-use of shopping bags, produce bags, and bulk receptacles for years by awarding you with a nickel credit for these uses, and recently added the option of contributing that nickel to a local non-profit through our bag-a-bean program. We are now looking at further encouragement, including potentially charging a nickel for the use of a paper bag in the future. Some of you may be aware that we offer shareholder hours for sewing re-useable bags from your scraps of fabric (three hours per four bags). These bags are currently sold for $3.00 and those proceeds support our shareholder assistance program, where the cost of a share is subsidized for committed customers who are struggling but wish to be part of our Co-op. We thought that if we start to move towards asking customers to pay for paper bags, in an effort to encourage re-use of bags, we might offer them a cloth bag to start. So, we need more of you to sew up your fabric scraps into bags! Some of you may be considering my offer of transitioning from senior-discount status to working-shareholder status, and this would be a way for you to get credit for time spent in the comfort of your home, making bags for our waste-reduction initiative down the road! Interested? Stop by Shareholder Services to get instructions, and be proud for participating in multiple ways to help your Co-op be more sustainable!
Finally, I want to acknowledge our entire hard-working staff. These changes and others too numerous to mention are a product of their ideas, their feedback, their labor, and their enthusiasm. Some of them will have worked several overnights in a row to effectively re-set the store during non-shopping hours. Others will have shouldered extra duties to fill in for those who spent the wee hours moving products around the shelves. We have a very special group of folks working for you, in this enterprise that you own, and we are all the better for it.