And They’re Off!

  | Food For Thought, GM Report

We had noticed a bit of a sluggishness in sales over the past quarter, so we were excited when the Indigenous People’s Day/foliage weekend pushed us well over recent sales levels in the store. The ramp-up that we experience this time of year sometimes takes us a week or so to catch up to, but this year we expect to have a more difficult time getting product on the shelves. I had mentioned in a recent article that service levels from our main natural foods distributor had been trending negatively, and this trend is sure to get worse before it gets better. The reason being that manufacturers in general are behind in producing goods, which—added to the trials and tribulations happening in distribution centers around acquisitions and such—means that we expect more shortages. We are actively looking for alternative products and sources to mitigate these anticipated scarcities. Some of these supply issues can be traced to the uncertainty around the effect of trade tariffs. Time will tell, but we will be sure to keep you in the loop.

Speaking of policy decisions and their effects, we also had some difficult news from our independent CPA review. Our meager but positive bottom line was adjusted to reflect an updated accounting valuation of future tax payments benefits on our balance sheet, a common accounting practice as a result of losses, of which we had for five years after our move. To the lay person, this means that our operating profit in the fiscal year that closed at the end of June was good, but our ultimate bottom line was tiny, as most of the earnings were allocated to cover the revaluation due to the change in the tax code. This was a hard pill to swallow, especially as the lowering of the corporate tax rate was touted as a positive for businesses. Just goes to show you that the devil is in the details…The good news is that as we continue to be profitable in the future, the tax payments should be lower due to this change, which should help our cash position at that time.

This month we celebrate our Annual Meeting, to which all shareholder owners are invited to both share a meal and commune with others. We urge you to come. This year, we are including a few other voices in our presentations to explore a bit of who “we” are. We will have a panel of folks, including a grower, a community partner, and a few others to hear how the Co-op interacts with them, and how we could deepen this relationship. You will be invited to participate with our panelists in this exploration. We look forward to seeing you there, and we ask that you register ahead of time to win fabulous prizes (and help us come up with a head count)! We also ask that you vote for the remarkable candidates who have stepped forward to serve you on the Board of Directors, as well as for a couple of minor bylaw changes. Voting online takes about three to five minutes, so don’t forget! After all, voting is all anyone should be thinking about these days… Let’s improve our response rate from last year!

Our Board of Directors, our Human Resources department, and I will be attending an unconscious bias training this month, a collaborative effort on the part of seven area co-ops. Although we all recognize that this is only one piece of a much larger and more intense process, we are excited and hopeful that this will get things moving a little more effectively in our organization.

And finally, we have been working on researching packaging choices that manufacturers make for their product in a few categories. We will be letting you know what we find out as we go, in an effort to give you more information on which to base your own purchasing decisions. Our store’s landfill diversion rate has risen to 77% this year, continuing a steady trend in reducing food waste and increasing recycling and composting. Kudos to the entire staff, and to Sarah Brennan for her research and tracking efforts.

As always, if you have any thoughts or comments on these updates, I’ll see you in the aisles!

By Sabine Rhyne, General Manager