The following are minutes from the Member Meeting held Tuesday, February 5th
There will be a follow-up with responses to the ideas and questions that were collected during the meeting’s comment period, available soon!
6.05 pm Meeting called to order by board Chair (Tamy Roloff)
Board Directors: Tamy, Nancy, Tim, Martee
IGM Team: Micki and Shannon
Long term GM: Megan
Absent Board Directors: Laura, Amber, Ellen
24 members in attendance
6.07 Meeting context and letter regarding Q4 (Micki Waddell, IGM)
- Winter sales dove tail, typically.
- Goal to stabilize and grow with help of members
6:15 History and details of finances (Megan White, Finance)
- Member had concern for time and clarification of purpose, addressed and agreement of BOD to stay late as needed for time to address member questions
- History of building and start up lacking member buy-in
- Finances: percentage of each dollar goes to… (Chart presentation showing breakdown of co-op finances, Megan White)
- Marketing and increasing minimum wage pressures
6.25 Board Committees
- These have been formed to help with member engagement
6.27 Long-term outlook
- Operations have depended upon our landlord and cannot go on longer
- Next six months need to be operationally excellent and we need member shoppers and engagement
6.30 Member feedback
Does the dollar spent (chart) need help from landlord?
Why does Q4 drop so significantly?
Can any store survive off of 1% profit margin?
Time of year, weather, shopping habits (downtown/parking), lack of convention traffic – our livelihood is really coming from conventions and tourism much more than member shopping
- Typical for grocery co-ops currently is 1-3% with increasing competition and raising wages…most of those co-ops had better cash reserves than we do
Lack of floor having product, why?
- More product has not paid off, our square footage is much bigger than it should be for our sales volume, excess inventory was breaking the bank and not resulting in grocery sales growth; we are finding balance
Can we expand the deli?
- It has been growing, the labor rate is very high, it’s not as sustainable as increasing grocery sales
Did we see a growth in Q4 this year?
- Reaching out to members and not shrinking inventory, yes we did see growth
- The member discount helped bring more people in but discounts is not sustainable for keeping store open
- Even with Q4 sales growth, can’t keep up with min wage labor growth
Wish there was north property available
- Strong effort to relocate 4 years ago
- No significant sales increase when looking at sales projection
- It's not off the table, however its still a large challenge
- Potential if there is more member support or new ideas/sources for capital
Can NCG help any more than they are?
- They are helping but they are looking at our finances and we need to demonstrate more sustainability/strength first
- Let members know the credit card fees and people would rather write a check- let them know
- Regular shopping coming down, by carpooling and paying with cash
- Debit is better than credit
- Support our economy through our local produc
6:45 29 Members Present, continuing with comments
• We are sourcing the most local produce compared to anyone else in Spokane• Shopping local can be better than organic for the environment comparatively• Freshen the email with a feature
- Statement from producers that is personalized
- How much it means to the farmers and give thanks
Farmers market crowd are our people
- If you miss the market, go to the co-op
• Case purchases, paying ahead of time
• Franz loafs
- Basics at lower price point to get people in the door then specialty items are at a higher price
- There are programs for smaller businesses, they will call us and show their loyalty to us with cheaper bread on occasion
7.02 Ideas Continued
Possible member Committee to call possible vendors to find better whole sale
- Megan said this was not the best way members could help; Lack of strong leadership in grocery department has lead to issues such as the Franz question last year plus, just hired a new manager and this is one of her first areas of work
Is it possible to get special orders for members regarding case purchases
- This could be advertised more
If you spend $6 more a week, this equals a 1% increase in our bottom line
- Make member shopping challenges simple
Catalog available for bulk orders to see online
How did $3 dinners go?
- There is some profit but line item more for our non-profit mission oriented work and accessibility initiatives
Like $3 dinner but Simple menu for bulk ordering-organic take home meal
Round up to support accessibility options for members
Round up for staff bonuses
- Education on source of produce and other member questions
- “Superiority complex” (attitude not always welcoming)
• Appeal to the most dedicated- the members who came today
• Can we expand help with labor (volunteers)
- Federal law prohibit this somewhat
- Difficult to manage volunteers
- Still an opportunity with dedicated members via Board Committees
7.20 More ideas
- Membership buy-in could be way more than $10 a year.
- Local craft food feast
7.24 Member engagement and Community Outreach Committee
- Sign up sheet went around
How has our membership grown in the last two years?
Reach out to most dedicated shoppers- who shops here all the time and do they want to help more(Board)/Member committees will help boost energy and assist in all areas
- It has grown quite a lot, however, the $10 equity inflates this (due to people making one initial payment and not continuing to make share payments)
- 3,000 members are actually active (shopped within the last year)
$10 a month is more favorable for the co-op
- Changing the equity payment to shift towards WIC and SNAP while others who can pay more are asked to
- 1 member stated he would be unhappy with a change of the membership dues payment of $10 a year to something other than he signed up for. He also is unhappy he no longer gets a 10% monthly discount shopping opportunity
- Micki defends the change
- He, politely pushes back
- Megan says changes have happened many times; asks for continued support and engagement as we evolve what membership means in a way that the co-op can be sustainable AND members more happy
- Kudos for making a change to support the co-op
- Megan- it’s a hard ask to make the members and the employees to keep going everyday. We are listening and open.
7:42 Producer farmer says Biggest key is the increase in sales
- Case with buying club and discounts
- Poll the customers to find which product they are looking for to bring more money in the door
- We do get feedback from customers but we need to get enough interest and actually sell it; willing to come back to the idea
7:49 Meeting called to end