At the heart of every cooperative is the desire to build common ground for member-owners and customers regardless of their backgrounds and beliefs. Co-op Market Grocery and Deli is no different. We welcome everyone.
It is also important to understand that as operators of a successful business we work to choose natural and organic products we think our customers will want to buy. We welcome comments and suggestions. Anyone can fill out a comment card at the customer service counter and we will consider these suggestions in our decision making. At the end of the day our board of directors has delegated operation to a management team focused on making good buying decisions to serve the needs of our member-owners. Sometimes people ask us to stop carrying products that other people want to buy. This makes decision making a little harder.
When faced with such dilemmas I believe that it is important to consider what is most important to our co-op and why did we set out to open this store to begin with? Probably our most important goal throughout the development years was improving the local economy. Another goal is providing our member-owners with the healthiest and freshest food possible. We also want to be both economically and financially sustainable. Finally, we care about our community.
We are proud of the work we are doing to create local economy, especially in our meat department. This week we are increasing the amount of local beef we buy and we’ve added local pork. Reindeer, goat and buffalo are regular offerings. All of our fish and seafood is wild caught in Alaskan waters. Our chicken is from our neighbors in Washington (since there are no poultry processing facilities in Alaska). Soon we’ll see more and more local produce. Last year local produce accounted for 35% of produce sales. This year we hope to increase that to 51%. Local eggs have just hit the shelves and we hope to offer more. (Call our fresh foods buyer, Steven Vandermaas, at 457-1023 Ext 104 if you have local eggs to sell.). We offer coffee from two local vendors – Diving Duck of Fairbanks and Kaladi Brothers of Anchorage. You’ll also find local ice cream and milk and many other local products in our aisles.
Possibly our most delicious local food comes right out of our own kitchen! Our talented chefs create amazing soups, salads and sandwiches using local meats and seafood and fresh organic vegetables. Many vegetarian and vegan options are available as well. Currently we are looking for a double soup warmer so that meat eaters and vegetarians can both find the soups they crave.
Perhaps our most important goal is sustainability. How do we provide our community with a financially sustainable community grocery store that thrives for years to come? This was the question I was working on when the debate over Ms magazine came to my attention. We have recently joined National Cooperative Grocer’s Association and a Development Advisor spent a week here helping me to assess how we need to improve operations. We’re excited about the opportunity NCGA offers us. Coming in June you will see Co+op Deals throughout the store. You might even get a coupon book or sales flyer in the mail. NCGA also helps us to offer education, recipes and information about natural foods.
Concern for community is another goal near and dear to us. Last fall we started the popular Lend a Hand program that gives you the opportunity to round up at the register and help your favorite charity. Our member-owners and customers donated over $1500 to both Stone Soup Cafe (Breadline) and the Foodbank.
As cooperators we do not represent one political agenda. When we offer reading material that we think people will want to buy that does not mean that the opinions represented in the magazine are ours. We strive to offer a balance of reading material that interests our customers. You will find food, farming and exercise magazines, literary magazines, and both the New Republic and Ms. While we welcome suggestions, our professional staff makes the buying decisions for our store. We will not be voting on what magazines (or other products) to carry but ultimately, for member-owners, the best way to vote is by buying the products you like.
Again, what matters most at our co-op? Local economy, healthy food, sustainability and community.