Up $25,000 from the previous weekly sales record, we have recently hit a new record at your Co-op—during the third week of November we experienced an all-time weekly sales high of $350,000! Historically, each year sales begin spiraling up beginning in September, then peak in December, leveling off through March. They then spiral up again in mid-May. This year, we have again seen the same trend from September through November and we have many owners, customers, and staff to thank for that milestone. The cooperative is managing growth despite larger-than-average deliveries, increased competition, new programs (Co-Shop, for example), adjusted store hours and our ongoing battle with parking lot congestion. In addition to the bustling environment in the store, we’re building capacity of the organization, defining practices and policies to reflect current circumstances and allow for future growth of the organization while designing and outfitting a new store.
The Co-op is not an average business—it is owned and governed by you (the Owners). Owners do have a say in much of what goes on in the business. For example, you elect Board members who provide governance (guidance) to the organization. The current bylaws are the “laws” and roadmap that we’ve used for over 30 years to manage the Cooperative, and they tell us which of the Cooperative’s decisions need to be approved by the owners before they can be put into effect. There have been very few occasions when a decision had to be made (where approval by the owners wasn’t detailed in the bylaws, that we needed to take action on without first soliciting and responding to owner input. When it came to keeping the Co-op out of harm’s way or ensuring we were in compliance with federal regulations regarding our Owner Participation program, it was the unenviable duty of the management team and Board to do what was needed to eliminate the chance of bringing hardship to our Cooperative. And we will continue to do this on behalf of our membership as the prudent fiduciaries that serve you.
Owner involvement continues to be one of the keys to our success—from core-shoppers who shop only at the Co-op to those of you who shop less than a handful of times a year—we count on your purchases to support the ongoing operation. We also count on Owners to participate by providing input for program development (bond drive design), assignment of Community Reinvestment Funds, Owner forums (courtesy discount task force), annual t-shirt design, and bylaws revision to name a few.
The Board of Directors has been working on a complete review and update of the Co-op’s bylaws for over three years. Throughout this process, the Board has solicited input from staff and owners through ad hoc committee work and Owner sessions, and they are close to making a final proposal for you to review and ultimately, to vote on. Taking into account the many perspectives that are be impacted by the many facets of the bylaws, the process has been long and not necessarily easy. The Board Report in this issue talks more about those proposed changes. Please be prepared to review the bylaw document when it is sent to you; ask questions if anything is unclear (either I or Doug Johnson will be happy to explain). Doug has been the major force behind this work and has kept the ball rolling through the various stages. He might best be able to explain the reasons behind the proposed changes.
The month of December brought a 75 percent plan review, a 99 percent plan review, a draft general contractor contract, footing and foundation installation, remodel of loading dock and common area backroom space, and now the fun begins: building what we have designed!
Informational meetings are scheduled for January 15th and 22nd, and February 5th beginning at 6:30pm in the Community Room. If you care to see the most recent set of plans for the Downtown store or review the assignment of various departments (basic use of space), stop in and take a gander! Wynston Estis, Store Manager Downtown, or I will be available at the meetings to walk you through the plans.
Many of you may recognize the name Gene Hahn. Gene has been an employee of the Co-op for over seventeen years. His primary focus in that time has been managing Co-op finances and the Finance department. He and I have worked throughout the years reporting information to the Board, finance committee, and Owners, forecasting sales, preparing budgets and shaping policy. Gene is still very much a part of the Co-op, but the structure of the department has changed in the last six months. Though Gene opted not to manage the department, he continues on as a key contributor to the Finance department and the Co-op. His ongoing presence provides valued continuity and financial management insight. Thanks Gene!
David Waisman, Director of Finance, now manages the Finance department. David has organized the bond drive for the next phase of our expansion; included in this issue of the Reader is his article explaining the program.