This year will bring some exciting changes to the Co-op, with the most obvious being the opening of the Downtown store. Already, we are beginning the transition in the Front End with Jesse Thurber—former cashier, Customer Service Staff, Shift Supervisor and now Assistant Front End Manager—beginning to take on his new role as Front End Manager here at the Eastside store while I start to make plans as the Front End Manager of the Downtown store.

We realize that it is important to not let these changes negatively impact the Eastside store. Since it’s the time of year when we tend to examine our lives and look for areas where we would like to improve, we decided to make some resolutions to continue to provide great service and to improve our performance in the Front End.

Resolution #1

We will continue to be friendly and helpful!

We have a really great staff in the Front End and I think they are already doing an excellent job in this area. We love to get feedback, positive or constructive, so please let us know how we are doing!

Resolution #2

We will gladly bag your groceries in the bags of your choice and to your specifications.

Cashiers expect to bag your groceries unless you offer. Your help is always appreciated, but not necessary. If you have any preferences, such as handled bags, used instead of new bags, or any specific packing instructions, please let your cashier or bagger know and they are happy to do the best they can to accommodate your requests. If you prefer to bag your groceries yourself, just let us know and you’ll get an extra “Thank you!” from your cashier!

Resolution #3

We will better educate members about their memberships.

When new customers come to the Co-op, occasionally they will ask at Customer Service about becoming a member. Most of the time, however, the conversation takes place at the register when a non-member is faced with paying the non-member surcharge. At that time, the cashier will offer a membership as an alternative to paying the surcharge. Unfortunately this means that many people become members as a means to avoid the surcharge. Membership is much more than that. These customers are investing equity in this store—becoming owners of it. Ownership in the Co-op allows members to have a voice in our business, from making requests for specific products to voting on key issues that will shape the future of the Co-op.

With ownership comes responsibility. There are bylaws the Co-op has pertaining to membership that are on the back of the membership contract that every member signs when they join. These bylaws cover the definition of membership, your fair share, payments, and so on. This is important information that unfortunately can take more time to explain than is available while customers are in line at the register. We will work with other departments at the Co-op, such as Communications and Member Services, as well as better utilizing our Customer Service staff, to work on bringing this information to the forefront. Otherwise, our staff is always available to answer questions you may have about memberships.

Resolution #4

As managers, we will provide ongoing education to our staff.

Almost all of the cashiers have been hired in the last year and they have been doing an excellent job of learning about the Front End and the Co-op in general. We will be planning follow up trainings to give cashiers more advanced register training, more information about membership, and to introduce new skills that will allow cashiers to provide more assistance at the Customer Service desk. We are also going to try to get cashiers and new Customer Service staff more exposure to the rest of the store so they can better answer customer questions.

Resolution #5

We will ask everyone if they want to CHIP.

CHIP is a voluntary one percent donation to local non-profit organizations. Cashiers usually ask at the end of the transaction if customers would like to CHIP and customers are under no obligation to do so, but they may at this time give the cashiers the okay to add one percent to their total. As with the bag credit, occasionally cashiers forget to ask. Although we will make an effort to remember, feel free to offer to CHIP if the cashier does forget to ask. The cashiers will take one percent of your total and add it, so if your total is $16.82, they will add 16 or 17 cents. In this scenario, if you prefer, the cashier could add 18 cents to make an even $17.00. Sometimes the cashier will notice this and ask, but otherwise just let your cashier know if you would like to CHIP an amount other than a straight one percent. You can ask to CHIP any amount and remember that your donation is tax-deductible!

Resolution #6

We will remember to give bag credits to customers who bring in their canvas bags or re-use their paper bags.

We love it when customers bring in their own bags and would like to continue to encourage customers to do so. While we have questioned how affordable this program is, we have determined we can continue it right now. We usually remember to give ten cent credits for canvas bags and five cent credit for paper bags, but occasionally we do forget. Cashiers will make more of an effort to remember, but through the course of a transaction there is a lot that they are trying to accomplish and they do get distracted by friendly conversation, complicated ringing processes and keeping all the product PLUs straight in their head. We would appreciate it if you could help us by mentioning when you have bags and letting us know how many you have.

If you choose not to bring your own bags, please do not be offended if your cashier asks if you have any bags. We do provide paper bags at no cost for customers and are certainly not making any judgments whether you bring in a bag or not. We are simply making sure that those who should be getting bag credits receive them.