As I write this report on the eve of another Annual Meeting & Party (AMP), we celebrate 35 years of cooperative business. We stand with those who in 1974 started the Co-op with their dream to establish a new, socially conscious, holistic way to source food and who have shared both the positive and negative results among all of us who choose to participate. I am happy to say this Co-op spirit is alive and well—I saw it make its way through the Isthmus only yesterday.

Financial position

It is a pleasure to report that we have recovered from Metropolitan Place II (MPII)—we have rebuilt our cash position and we are running a profitable business. The efficiencies (action steps) put in place to support the MPII recovery plan have returned us to a strong financial position and are assisting us during this economic downturn. The staff’s attention to trimming expenses, as well as strong margin performance and inventory management are supporting budgeted goals. We are excited to share more about this at the AMP and in the Annual Report.

Second site

It is not news that a copious amount of time and energy has been spent researching second retail site options. The original work began in 2004—and we are approaching another recommendation for a single second retail site option. We will be basing our recommendation on work performed by the second site advisory committee and staff who studied Dakota Market and demographic studies, and financial feasibility (sources and uses) reports to prepare for negotiations with potential landlord. By the time this is printed the Board will have reviewed materials and (hopefully) made a decision.

On-line voting

The change to offer voting on-line will happen in the upcoming Board election cycle (August 2009). We are working to provide you with clear instructions for voting either on-line or with a traditional paper ballot. This dual submittal process requires slightly varying voting times to ensure authentic ballots (one vote per membership—individual or household). Balloting will begin August 1st, 2009 for both on-line or paper balloting; on-line voting will close Sunday, August 16th, with paper balloting ending Tuesday, August 18th in order to authenticate individual ballots received in both tracks. The results will be announced at the special membership meeting called for August 18th in the Community Room after 6:30pm when the last call for ballots is announced.

Speaking of on-line voting...

This year’s annual Board of Director’s election is to fill five open seats. Board candidates are introduced at the AMP (July 9th) and they will say a few words about why they are running. It has been said that democratic nations and cooperatives get the Board they deserve. Board members are elected by the membership as stewards of the Co-op’s mission (purpose). This includes both acting with a united purpose, and tending to the best interest of the business. At the recent CCMA (Consumer Cooperative Manager’s Association) national conference that three Board members and I attended, the keynote speaker reminded the assembled co-op leaders that it is the elected Board’s job to decide the “what” in the organization while staff work together to determine the “how.”

The CCMA was held this June in Pittsburgh—wow is that a happening town! My hopes were to glean valuable input from other general managers on how they have survived by establishing best practices to support the same growth our Co-op is getting ready to realize. I heard many accounts of things not to do, as well as successes to work to recreate. The benefits of networking within the co-op sector are numerous—other general managers freely offer sage advice and suggestions down the winding path...

Store closing EARLY!

The Co-op will be closing at 7:30pm on the following dates: Saturday, July 4th for Independence Day and Thursday, July 9th for the Annual Meeting & Party!