Welcome to winter, fellow cooperators! We’re in the thick of the holiday season now, and I want to thank each and every one of you for including Willy Street Co-op in your celebrations. Whether you’re picking up a few acorn squash to roast for the fam or taking a break from the kitchen at our hot bar, thank you for being a part of this cooperative community!
Your Board has been settling into a regular flow of business as a new group of nine. At the October meeting, we reviewed the report from Willy Street Co-op’s annual audit. Each year the Co-op brings in an independent CPA firm to conduct a financial audit. The audit takes a deep dive into the Co-op’s accounting practices and financial statements to look for any inconsistencies, mistakes, recommendations for better practices, etc. It is a big deal for our Finance department, and the organization as a whole. I am happy to share that the 2017 auditors issued us a clean bill of financial health, with no additional recommendations for changes to our internal controls. In addition, Co-op management and staff reduced the expected 2016-17 operating loss by nearly 40%! That is an exceptional accomplishment—give a staff member a high five next time you’re in the store!
The Board also reviewed two policy reports, on B2 (Planning and Financial Budget) and B3 (Asset Protection). As you can probably guess from their titles, both of these policies deal with ensuring the Co-op is in good financial health. The Board approved both monitoring reports, and found that management is in compliance with each policy. Curious about what exactly those policies are? You can find them here: tinyurl.com/yc6n3pld and tinyurl.com/y7u9cczf.
Introducting Meghan Gauger
Speaking of the Board, did you know that the 2017 election resulted in five new Board members being seated? Meghan Gauger is one of those new Board members, and I had the pleasure of interviewing her for our new Board member intro series.
Stephanie Ricketts (SR): What was your first memory of the Willy Street Co-op?
Meghan Gauger (MG): My first memory of Willy Street Co-op was probably from shopping there, back when the Co-op was located across the street, in the former Social Justice Center.
SR: How did you first learn about cooperatives, and what was the first co-op you joined?
MG: I grew up in Milwaukee, and had been a long time shopper at Outpost Co-op. When I was growing up, natural and organic foods were still very much counterculture things, and I was very interested in all things counterculture. Outpost was the first co-op I ever heard of.
SR: What do you rely on Willy Street Co-op for?
MG: As an Owner, I rely on Willy Street Co-op for quality products and great discounts! I really value the great Owner benefits, like the discounts and the chance to be involved with the Co-op through voting, being on committees and serving on the board. I also rely on Willy Street Co-op for environmentally sustainable practices.
SR: What are your top three favorite Willy Street Co-op foods?
MG: The cowgirl cookies are definitely #1. I also love the produce section and the cheese case.
SR: Do you have any favorite food traditions?
MG: Not really—I like to eat almost anything, almost any time of the year! I can’t really think of any food traditions—I just like to eat.
SR: Besides being a Willy Street Co-op Board member, what else do you like to do with your time?
MG: Finding exhilaration and solitude in nature. I love to hike, and I am particularly passionate about the southern Utah wilderness.
SR: What are you most excited about in being a new Board member, and what do you see as the biggest opportunities and challenges the Co-op will face over the next few years?
MG: It’s exciting to be a part of the Board and learn more about the Co-op from the perspective of guiding the organization. I’m excited to learn more about ways that we can make the Co-op better, while keeping the things that we do well. I think that we have a lot of opportunities to learn more about our Owners’ needs and how to serve them. The biggest challenge in the next few years is definitely keeping our competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
SR: Is there anything else you’d like our Owners to know?
MG: It’s a privilege to serve on the Board, and I appreciate the opportunity. I really respect our Owners and shoppers for the commitment they’ve made to shop at the Co-op. Everyone has a choice in where they shop, and I am deeply appreciative that we have such a strong Owner and customer base that chooses to be a part of the Co-op.