Happy July everyone! I hope you all are excited for this year’s Annual Meeting & Party (AMP), and for the opportunity to now be able to vote for Board candidates at the party. I’m looking forward to some great music and even better food!
Speaking of Board elections, we have five candidates running for three seats this year. Participation is more important than ever as our Co-op considers some big topicsa over the next year. Be sure to make your voice heard and VOTE!!
Thank you to Rick Bernstein and dawn matlak, our outgoing Board members. Rick has been on the Willy Street Co-op Board for six years and dawn has served for three.
There is also a bylaw change on the ballot for you to consider. In short, this change removes the specific “headquarters” address in the bylaws and replaces it with a broader, more flexible wording to reflect our changing/growing sites. For years the office was at 1221 Williamson Street; now it’s at 1457 East Washington Avenue, and in the future it may change again. All bylaw changes require a vote of Owners, and we hope you’ll help us with this administrative update. The exact wording is found here.
After over eight years at Willy Street Co-op, David Waisman, our Director of Finance, is moving on to a great new position with National Cooperative Grocers (NCG). We’re glad that more co-ops will benefit from David’s extensive knowledge and expertise, though we will miss him dearly in the day-to-day operations at the Co-op! Paige Wickline, formerly the Finance Assistant Manager, will be acting as the Interim Director.
Fiscal Year 2016 has officially begun as of this month! We are focusing in on really knocking a few projects out of the park this year, some that will make your experience shopping at the Co-op even more fulfilling and enjoyable. Some “front-of-house” capital expenditures or projects coming this month:
• A “meal solution station” at West (roasted chicken, ribs and other ready to go meals)
• An improved pizza program at East, with a new menu
• Reach-in cooler in the bulk aisle at East
• A program to improve customer service
• Rewards for referring new Co-op Owners
Willy East Reset
Let me call out another specific project this month, the Willy East final remodel reset. This is in response to Owner input that key items have been difficult to locate, so we have planned one final shift of product adjacencies that will hopefully make products easier to find and the store easier to navigate. Products are not being dropped, just rearranged!, Plus, we have recently added over 60 new products! Please look for a more detailed explanation and guide included in this issue of the Reader (see page 19).
FY16 Operating and Capital Budgets
The focus this year is to return to profitability—more accurately said, bringing expenses in line with revenues. We developed an operating budget for this fiscal year, which the Board approved at the June Board meeting, that does just that—brings expenses in line with revenues. By successfully working within the plan, we will have a profitable year. All aspects of the operation were evaluated, and it was not easy reducing labor by $276k or finding $85K in operating excess to cut to reach a break-even scenario. We took a long hard look at our labor expense; we have budgeted for a COLA (cost of living adjustment) for staff, but no merit raises. We have asked staff to voluntarily reduce hours. The Directors and GM have a wage freeze. If we are successful in achieving budget, we can reinstate merit, 401k match, and a larger COLA. We are focused on creating a terrific experience for every customer and Co-op Owner, achieving our collective goals: being profitable (because profit is the economic engine that allows us to do more), operational excellence, uniting as one Co-op, and continuing to build on our legacy as one of the leading cooperatives in the nation.
We are also working on more clearly defining our role in community engagement beyond food and cooperatives, particularly in the area of social justice and especially racial equity. I would also like to draw on the wisdom of our Ownership. Do you have thoughts, opinions or resources to share? Please send them to Stephanie Ricketts as well.
Willy Street Co-op is what it is because of each of you. Thank you for shopping here. At the Annual Meeting & Party on July 9th, you’ll hear about the change your participation in this organization makes not only for the many farmers and artisans you help support but for our planet. Without you, none of this is possible, so thank you and I look forward to seeing you in July!