Articles

The Wheatsville Way: A System for Better Workplace Accountability

It’s hard to create a positive workplace culture, and it seems to be even more difficult to understand how holding staff accountable to standards of internal service, hard work, and cooperation actually make a workplace better. At Wheatsville Co-op in Austin, Texas, we’ve developed a system that builds organizational alignment, recognizes high performance, and helps supervisors hold staff accountable for important agreed-upon standards— and [...]

Cross-Training to Achieve Operational Efficiencies

We’ve been in the “new normal” long enough to not call it “new” anymore. Despite pressure from competition and rising minimum and livable wages, co-ops continue to work to be the employer of choice in their communities and to offer great compensation packages. We all know efficiencies are the main way we can afford to stay competitive, but other than just asking staff to [...]

Guiding the Fundamentals of Co-op Business

Seward Community Co-op Minneapolis, MN Year founded: 1972 Member investment: $75 Number of members: 20,000 Number of employees: 270 Locations: Franklin and Friendship grocery stores, cafe, production kitchen, administrative offices Ray Williams is Seward Community Co-op’s operations manager and recognizes that even though the co-op has achieved a lot over the years, especially in terms of growing its operations and diversifying staff and leadership, [...]

How Coaching Benefits You as a Leader

In a competitive economy with slim profit margins, hiring a consultant or a coach can feel like a luxury line item.  Yet feeling overtasked and having to do more with less is the perfect reason for hiring a coach.  Coaches can help leaders prioritize and focus their energies, leverage their skills, and learn new ways to respond to both interpersonal and marketplace demands.  In [...]

Leadership Development for Expansion Readiness

Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Middlebury, VT Year founded: 1976 Member investment: $300 Number of members: 5,300 Number of employees: 85 Retail square feet: 9,000 The Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op is uniquely situated in small town Middlebury, Vermont. Rather than becoming one of those places that time forgot, it has maintained a vibrant community in a place known for its natural beauty and arts and [...]

It Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely at the Top

When I became general manager of Outpost Natural Foods in 1986, I had already been working at the co-op for seven years doing ordering, receiving, merchandising, marketing, managing, and assisting the general manager (GM) with board work. So naturally that made me the prime candidate for the GM job, since I was already skilled in operations, right? I sure had hoped the answer to [...]

Deliberative Improvements: Facilitation Techniques for Meeting Success

From a director’s perspective, what are the core ingredients of a great board meeting? Starting and ending on time probably top the list for most people, followed closely by everybody arriving prepared to do work that’s worth doing. A bit of dinner or at least a communal bar or two of chocolate, shared in a comfortable and welcoming space, can also be a make-or-break [...]

Good Governance Makes Community Stronger

Maple City Market Goshen, IN Year founded: 1976 Membership investment: $100 Number of members: 3,000 Number of employees: 25 Recently, Goshen, Indiana was named “Community of the Year” by the state’s Chamber of Commerce. For many years, this northern Indiana town on the border of Michigan held many undiscovered charms. No longer. It’s an increasingly diverse town recognized for its civic pride, hosting many [...]

Nurturing Inclusion and Diversity on Staff

Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op Silver Spring, MD Year founded: 1981 Number of members: 10,000 Member investment: $100 Number of employees: 48 Retail square feet: 4,600 The Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op (TPSS) in Takoma Park, Maryland is a cooperative that is known for its diversity and inclusion among staff and customers. Currently, 48 employees from 20 countries work at the food co-op. Amongst [...]

Telling the Story of Local and Fresh

Moscow Food Co-op Moscow, Idaho Year founded: 1973 Member investment: $150 Number of members: 7,800 Number of employees: 120 Locations: retail store + coffee shop For a long time, the Moscow Food Co-op had dreamed of “telling beautiful stories” about the co-op. They made the investment in 2015 to launch a co-op magazine called Rooted. Since then, their dreams have come true, and then [...]