You may have noticed our fancy new shopping cart "corral." A few more upgrades to our store are being considered! We look forward to sharing details when we have them. In order to help inform our decisions and guide these ch-ch-ch-changes, we've been gathering input from Co-op shoppers and Owners...
Our Board of Directors and staff collaborated on two robust focus groups and a lively patio survey process in February and March. Preliminary data from these efforts show that Co-op stakeholders are devoted to our fresh organic produce and our Bulk Department offerings. They also care deeply about sustainability. Music to our ears! We've been working hard behind the scenes this quarter. Among other accomplishments in 2018, we've doubled down on our commitment to local farms and producer families.
Our booth at the 5th Annual Guild-Raising, held in early March at UC Davis.
In celebration of CAFF's 40th anniversary, and in honor of their merger into one big, beautiful CAFF Farmers Guild entity, we signed on as the flagship sponsor for the Community Alliance with Family Farmers. This decision, which committed 25% of our Marketing budget for the quarter, was a welcome chance to put our money where our mouth is. Simultaneously, our Produce Department launched the first-ever Davis Food Co-op Local Growers Collaboration, and kicked off an annual meeting for local farmers on how best to position themselves in our market. Our entire staff is still star-struck from these visits with local farm royalty! Dru Rivers from Full Belly Farm... Dianne Madison from Yolo Press... Lola from Green Almond Farm... (Yes, in real life Lola does look like Kate from Cloverleaf Farm. We could do a Who Wore It Best for the next Vine!)
We've also taken a deep dive into University opportunities, and have become contributors to UCD's Fruit & Veggie Up! We donate fresh, imperfect produce twice a week to the Davis campus. We look forward to developing this into a lasting partnership. Our hope is to play a small role in their fight to end food insecurity for students.
But wait, there's more!
Organizationally, our staff has undergone exciting changes as well. We've welcomed new folks to our Deli crew—say hi to Ian on our Management Team—and promoted long-time Co-op employee Christal Stafford O'Dell to Front of House Deli Manager. We also bid a fond farewell to Dustin Lambert, and welcomed our new Ownership Coordinator, Bryan Miller. Bryan is working with our Point of Sales Manager Jocelyn Simmermaker, on streamlining and stabilizing our Ownership database. Long time Co-op Owners will remember that we used to require Owners to reinvest before April 1. With these improvements, Owners will be prompted at the register to reinvest on all dates of the year, according to the date of their last reinvestment (or, in the cases of folks who reinvested after April 1, the anniversary of their join date). Instead of processing share reinvestments in one unmanageable deluge, this means we can process them throughout the year. Hooray for efficiency!
We continue to improve systems with attention to stability and excellence. The Board and staff is excited to unveil a new approach to our Annual Ownership Meeting! Participation lagged in recent years, in spite of our best efforts to glam up this marvelous event. This year, we're letting the Meeting stand alone. The 2018 Annual Meeting on Monday, May 14th at 7:00pm will be a dignified gathering of Owners coming together to assess the fiscal year past, in the Blanchard Room of our public library on 14th Street. We believe our 9,400+ strong Ownership is comprised of sharp, engaged adults who crave this annual glance at Co-op financials, and sincerely look forward to the opportunity to meet and hear the new candidates for the Board. We are hopeful this new strategy will increase participation and underscore the seriousness of our business. Last year, in spite of a full buffet dinner and free alcoholic beverages at a swanky location, a maximum of 40 attended (some of) the meeting. That was about half the attendance of the year prior, during which we had a Fair Trade chocolate fountain. This year, we are training the spotlight on the valuable work our Board of Directors does to keep this cooperative business afloat. This will give our Ownership real insight into the processes of the Board of Directors. Tea and coffee will be served. We'll throw a separate party for Owners later in the summer.
Upcoming improvements we're considering for the store include, but aren't limited to, educational upgrades: the Kids Corner that features our children's coloring pages, the Governance Board and Board Portraits, and our beloved Owners sign that shows how many current Owners there are of the Co-op. We are also looking at ways to improve the visibility of our Bulk Department, and increase the capacity of our local & organic Produce Department offerings. In early March, staff and the Board collaborated on an exciting stakeholder input project. We conducted two focus groups of Co-op shoppers, and came away with bucketloads of insight, information, stories and warm fuzzies. There was plenty of constructive criticism! But we look forward to sharing how we plan to improve, based on the results of the focus group, and how we are currently satisfying our mandate. Another arm of the stakeholder input project was a simple survey that Directors and staff conducted on the patio. You may remember seeing Girl Scout Troops selling cookies? We used that opportunity to approach shoppers about their Co-op insights. Our goal is to use the information we gathered to inform strategic planning and decisions at both the Board and operational (store) level. We're always working to make your Co-op more viable, shoppable and sustainable. Having direct Owner input helps us stay on track.
Wish we'd surveyed you on your way out of the Co-op? Take our virtual patio survey here! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/virtual_lucy We'd love to know what you think. Thank you!