Cooperative Grocer

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 [...]

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 [...]

Strengthening Co-op Elections: How Boards are Ensuring that Members Can Vote for Excellent Candidates

In her book Democracy’s Edge, Frances Moore Lappe makes a strong case that a healthy democracy is about much more than elections and voting. Even so, board elections are still a particularly important and visible part of cooperative governance. A successful board election includes at least two critical elements: enough qualified candidates on the ballot and enough information so that members can make educated [...]

When a Living Wage Becomes a Demotivator

By Sarah Dahl 195 March-April 2018 It’s hard to understand how something as benevolent as paying a living wage could cause resentment within the workforce. With over half (29) of states and an additional 39 localities mandating a minimum wage higher than the legal threshold of $7.25, more co-ops are attempting to provide a living wage for their lowest-paid employees. While this is a [...]

Leading Our Co-ops Beyond Customer Service to Cooperative Service

By Brittany Baird, Rebecca Torpie 194 Jan.-Feb. 2018 As food co-ops forge ahead in the “the new normal,” they often find themselves in the precarious place of trying to both differentiate from and conform to competitors. From the consistent progression of conventional grocery stores towards natural products offerings, to the growing threat of internet retailers, food co-ops are experiencing an increasingly urgent pressure to raise the [...]

Co-ops at a Crossroads: A Co-op Security Case Study

By Michael Feiner, Paul Feiner 194 Jan.-Feb. 2018 Retail grocery co-ops are as quintessential Vermont as the brilliant colors of our fall foliage, the hallmark herd of Holsteins on the pasture, or the one-room schoolhouse at the crossroads of two backcountry roads. In fact, it’s said that Vermont boasts the most food co-ops per capita in the country—somewhere in the neighborhood of 17, give or take, [...]

Cooperative Business Law Basics: A Primer on Organizational Structure and Capitalization Options

By Thane Joyal, Dave Swanson Change in the market, change in the world, can mean stress in the relationships within a cooperative as the organization adapts to the changing circumstances. Both having the right organizational structure and choosing the right vehicles to capitalize your co-op are important in making your cooperative responsive and resilient in the face of change. But their technical and legal [...]

Distinguishing Characteristics: Utilizing the Power of Produce to Stand Out from the Crowd

By James Morrell 190 May-June 2017 Keeping it fresh: a vibrant and fresh produce department is a key part of most natural food cooperatives, and a positive produce experience is the primary reason given by shoppers for their choice of a specific store or location. A healthy produce department offers a great foundation for overall store success and is an effective way for a store [...]