Reflecting on Changes
by Steve Silverberg, Board Vice President
Best wishes to all for a happy and healthy new year. The turning of the calendar year is always a period of reflection on the changes we see in ourselves and the world around us.
I want to take a moment at the start of the year to note the passing of a not-so-distant relative, the Mifflin Street Co-op, a member owned local institution whose storefront passed away after a good fight. We admire the values and dedication with which the staff, members and Board approached their difficult circumstances. We have a lot to thank Mifflin for. Can we linger over our favorite cup of Organic Fair Trade coffee and not trace its roots in part to the founders of Mifflin? They and other pioneers planted a seed in the grocery consciousness of the United States and cultivated a simple concept we all benefit from today—fairness to producers, respect for the planet, and health for all.
Making the jump
Mifflin’s passing is also cause for some introspection and reflection about our current circumstance here at the Willy Street Co-op. We should probably first thank dumb luck and secondly the foresight of staff, members, the Board and volunteers for contributing to our current success. Fraternal Brotherhood of Eagles was leaving its “clubhouse” for more “modern” facilities just as the Co-op needed to grow (again). The old corner store had already been expanded once in order to achieve better economies of scale and meet the needs of our growing membership. To our benefit we recognized and were in a position to capitalize on the opportunity the Eagle’s location presented. Please be sure to appreciate staff’s hard work and our good luck next time you shop at the Co-op.
So Willy Street Co-op avoided some of the challenges Mifflin faced. We were able to successfully afford and make the jump a larger store. Sales have steadily grown as we have added members and as sales of organic and natural foods have grown in popularity. Sounds all great, yes? Well the answer is actually yes and no. Yes, we are in a position of financial and managerial strength and apparently very popular with all of you. Yet if Mifflin can teach us something, it is that vigilance, with regard to the future of our business in particular and the grocery market in general, is of paramount importance to our continued success.
I am impressed by cumulative desire and expertise on the part of management, staff, volunteers and the Board to actively meet the challenge of changing times. The recently completed staff restructuring and our continued work on updating our bylaws are examples of internal changes allowing the Co-op to be on firmer footing for the future. Look around the store and keep abreast of new programs and offerings at the Co-op; they are examples of continued change.
One of the strategic goals of management and the Board is to stay flexible and adaptive to our changing needs and changing times. Opening another store is one of the tactics we are considering to achieve this goal. As we are glad people had the foresight to understand the Eagles Club purchase was key to our continued success, so we are vigilant about the opportunities and risks another store presents. We are proceeding in an orderly manner in the continued examination of a short list of possible future store sites. As explained previously, signing “confidentiality” agreements has allowed us to have thoughtful and sincere discussions with potential site owners. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and patience in this regard.
That’s all for now. Enjoy the new year and enjoy your Co-op.