Improve Operations

Holiday Wine Sets 101

It’s not just you: building a successful wine program comes with a certain intimidation factor. The holiday season can amplify the pressure, and your co-op members probably feel it, too. “People who don’t purchase wine as often might want to buy wine for Thanksgiving, and not know where to start,” says Samuel Vandegrift, an industry veteran with two decades of experience. Vandegrift is a [...]

Safety Matters

Is your store prepared for an emergency? “It feels like an intimidating, and not immediately gratifying topic,” admits Mike Feiner - Safety, Security, and Loss Prevention Consultant, ”and that’s precisely why it’s important.” Considering your operation’s safety doesn’t have to be intimidating. “Think of preparation as your fire extinguisher,” Feiner adds, “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and [...]

Columinate: Who We Are

At Columinate, we are catalysts for common good. Our member-consultants share strategies, tools, and skills to help purpose-driven organizations build and empower community. From the city to the suburbs and beyond, co-ops are both the foundation and the backbone of strong communities. Our role is to illuminate solutions to guide these organizations forward. Founded in 1994, Columinate works with mission-driven organizations on their most [...]

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 [...]

Cross-Merchandising Wine & Beer

Everybody loves a great dinner party, especially when we take things outdoors and make it a picnic. Deliciousness needn’t be hard. Your member-owners are looking to make great food with excellent beverage pairings, so help raise basket totals while improving engagement! Become the place for wine and beer with these simple, yet effective ideas for cross merchandising: Sangria Central in Produce: Out of department [...]

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, [...]

Focus on Outreach During PR Crisis

Nothing stings more than public criticism, and the longer it’s sustained, the more damaging it can be to an organization’s reputation. Especially when, despite everyone’s best intentions, something goes wrong, or people are upset about something. In today’s wired world, the opportunities for people to share their impressions online have grown exponentially, sometimes amplifying negative word of mouth. It can easily become a chronic [...]

Customers, Community, and Cost: A Pathway to Success

Michael Faber, General Manager at the Monadnock Food Co-op in Keene, NH, shares his top 3 areas of improvement and growth for the success of his co-op. These are: Customer Experience (CX), Pricing, and Community Involvement. Sit back and listen to Michael share the stories and lessons from his Co-op's struggles and successes since their rocky start in 2013 to their double-digit growth and [...]

Marketing Planning that Cuts Through the Clutter

Retailers face lots of challenges, profit margins are small, inventory needs to turn, and the competition is fierce. Getting customers into the store and keeping them satisfied should be everyone’s focus to boost sales and enhance profitability. Retailers faced with flat or declining sales need to take a closer look at their marketing and customer service experience. Since food co-ops are owned by the [...]

Marketing Systems Revamp Lifts Sales

Ashland Food Co-op Ashland, OR Ashland Food Co-op in Ashland, OR is a successful food co-op in an artsy university town that also draws a lot of year-round tourists. The co-op is especially known for its outreach and popularity in the community. Recently, they faced a dilemma about this very thing. What should the co-op do when their dynamic and long-term marketing director retired? [...]