|GM Report: Counting on Discounts|
by Sabine Rhyne
As the seasons change, we prepare for the colder months, loading our woodpiles, stashing the squash into the cold storage, packing our Truckload Sale purchases into the pantry. It’s also time to reflect on our neighbors who are struggling, as the colder months exacerbate the issues of food insecurity and adequate shelter. We have discussed in these pages before the idea of Co-op discounts and how we might look at different ways to spread our benefits around more equitably to address better those needs in our community.
I had proposed for some of you who currently enjoy senior discounts of 10% at the register on Tuesdays and Thursdays to consider a different arrangement, thereby allowing the Co-op to offer more support to those eligible for Food for All discounts. For context, your Co-op gave away $234,205 in discounts to seniors last fiscal year, which is 1.18% of sales. This was $5000 more than last year.
Let me say clearly that some of you count on your discount to make ends meet, and we are not in any way challenging your need. If you need to continue on as you are, please do so. But some of you could potentially consider a slightly smaller discount, and we would no longer require you to shop on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so you would also gain some flexibility from this. We are opening up a new Shareholder Group: Elders.
Shareholders over 65 will now be able to come to Shareholder Services and request to be switched from “Senior” to “Elder.” This means that if you choose to do so, you will automatically receive an 8% discount at the register on any day of the week. If you select this option, you will be assisting the Co-op to spread its resources around in a more economically sustainable manner, supporting the community that most needs access to our food. With your help, we would be continuing our march towards good financial stability, which would allow us to pay our shareholder lenders back sooner, and even consider declaring a patronage dividend someday, to all shareholders. Remember those days? We will be there again soon, but could be there sooner with your help.
This of course does not preclude those of you who continue to do work hours for the Co-op from doing so. Some of you are welcome and familiar faces in some departments, or are some of our best garden fairies. But if you are unable or unwilling to spend time here working, we would still extend the Elder category to you, and you would still receive your discount of 8%. We honor our elders, and are ever so grateful!
Speaking of small ways we could improve our Co-op’s health, we spoke a few months ago about writing checks or purchasing co-op gift cards to avoid some of the bank charges the Co-op pays for credit and debit card purchases. Last fiscal year, those charges amounted to $239,754, or nearly $20,000 a month. I’ll bet you had no idea that this is one downstream effect of this practice. So, if you can modify the way you pay for groceries, and even use the Co-op gift card as a budgetary tool to boot, we would all stand to gain.
Thank you for your consideration!