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More than the
Sum of Its Parts

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GM Report
Anya Firszt
General Manager

Offsite Kitchen/Production Facility
In April, the Board asked me to present to them an organizational implementation plan for an off-site kitchen/production facility. The off-site kitchen is one of the three potential expansion options that the Board is seriously considering for the Co-op. If the Board finds the plan fiscally sound and a logical next step for the Co-op to take, the Board will recommend that the membership approve the expenditure of funds to support the project. The Co-op’s bylaw 8.35 reads, “Any decision to buy or sell the Co-op’s building or to spend over $50,000 on expansion be approved by the membership.”

The off site kitchen project is a means to improve the use of the current kitchen space, by reducing space limitations and stress on the staff. It means relocating production of specific items to another space, where much larger quantities could be produced, packaged, stored, and then stocked here or other wholesale accounts.

The member relations committee has a meeting scheduled for June 15th to report on the expansion options and discuss the decision the membership might be asked to vote on.

Exploring Floor Plan Redesign/Remodel of Current Site

Last month I reported that the ad hoc committee and I were reviewing plans for the remodel of the current site.
I received this customer comment asking for more information:

“I just read the latest Co-op newsletter and am somewhat confused by the short paragraph in the GM Report section that describes the ongoing quest to look at ways to remodel the current Co-op space. I’ve been an avid Co-op member since it’s inception. The Co-op has evolved in many ways since the early 1970s, however during the last five years it seems that the Co-op has developed and embraces an operations philosophy of Bigger is Better.

I am not a person who is anti-progress when progress and expansion make sense. When I shop weekly in the current space and look around in wonder at the ways in which the Co-op has evolved the first thing that comes to mind is not, “the Co-op really needs to expand its retail sales area.” I think the current space is luxurious, it’s wonderful and appears to meet current and future needs. I’m confused by the ad hoc expansion committee and GM’s ongoing lust for expansion and more space. Please enlighten the members as to why such an expansion is needed. How will we be better served by a redesign? Is a redesign really needed or is it just meeting a small committee’s quest for a Bigger is Better philosophy. Would members' dollars be better spent in other ways that improve the community, e.g., providing discounted food to seniors and those on fixed incomes? Have we lost touch with the need to sustain versus expand? Sometimes I think organizations get on a track that blinds us and we focus on goals that no longer make sense. Let’s get off the expansion train and look around at the community in which the Co-op lives.

That’s my two cents worth. I’d like some well-reasoned and non sound bite reasons for expansion.”


I was not casually reporting that a remodel of this current site would happen; the members still have the FINAL say in the next BIG step of the business. I admit I failed to give enough information to you to understand maybe why we were starting this work now, and it would not happen for several years into the future. I also may have used the word "plans" incorrectly—plans as in site plan, not plans in a done deal. I support actively discussing the future use and development of this site to continue to meet our members' ever-evolving needs.

I do not lust for more space. I do desire to fully use the space we have, and think about how we can better use that space. Any change in the current footprint is restricted to the confines of the property (streets, fire station, setbacks from other properties, parking) and on the very outside might add an additional 2k square feet total on the ground floor; bringing the retail space to 11,500 square feet. A remodel might include a larger commons area (seating area), double the community room (from 700 to 1500 square feet), a second staff bathroom, and installation of an elevator to fully meet ADA requirements.

Woodman’s Food Market is nearly 150,000 square feet, even with another 2k added to this site that is 10 times bigger than this site—ten times. In the last thirty years, the Co-op has expanded five times, and the current retail space is 9.5k square feet. Industry standard supports that annual sales per square feet are ideally within the range of $650 to $750; WSGC is currently at $1,290 annual sales per square feet—well above the industry average/standard.

Historic milestones:
1973: 1k square feet of retail. Opened buying club.
1974: 1.5k square feet of retail. Retail storefront.
1986: 3k square feet of retail.
1992: 3.2k square feet of retail.
1999: 3.2k square feet of retail. Annual Sales are 4.1 million which equal $1,290 per square foot.
2000: 9.5k square feet of retail. Annual Sales are 6.34 million which equal $667 per square foot.
2004: 9.5k square feet of retail. Annual Sales are 11.4 million which equal $1,200 per square foot.
2007: At current 9.5k square feet of retail. Projected Annual Sales are $16.89 million which equals $1,780 per square foot.
If Co-op members should decide to remodel current site adding up to 2k square feet:
2007: 11.5K square feet of retail. Projected Annual Sales are $16.89 million which equals $1,468 per square foot.
If Co-op members were to decide to open a second site, sales at this site would PROBABLY not grow at the 14% annual rate as we have experienced over the last five years, but settle into a more manageable annual growth rate of 5%.

Affordable groceries:
WSGC has developed the Essentials and ESP programs to more adequately provide discounted food to seniors and those on fixed incomes. And, seniors and low-income members can receive 10% discount daily on purchases. WSGC continues to work with our regional and national cooperative partners to develop purchasing agreements to lower the cost of goods, and pass those savings on to you.