November was certainly a busy month for us here at the Co-op. I want to start by thanking everyone who attended our Annual Meeting. We had an informative event and I wanted to thank our panelists again for their participation and insights. We did have one issue with the meeting size that took us a few minutes to fix, so I apologize to those of you who tried to join at the start but were unable. You can find the transcripts and Q&A on our website and recordings will be made available shortly. I am very happy to share that the Board is currently planning a return to an in-person Annual Meeting next year, so hopefully, Zoom meeting limits are a thing of the past. We are now looking forward to follow-up discussions with our shareholders regarding the meeting theme, “ensuring a thriving future,” and I am excited to continue the conversation.
Thanksgiving followed closely behind the Annual Meeting, and I am so grateful for the support of our community. A lot of shareholders (and Board members!) jumped in to help and we did our best to listen to and act on feedback from previous holidays. We had team members directing traffic and managing our parking lot, helping shoppers find those tricky items, and jumping in to help bag groceries, grab carts, clean, and stock shelves. Financially we had a successful week, but more importantly, I am incredibly proud of the experience our team delivered.
In general, holidays are a time of reflection, gratitude, and celebration, so it is easy to forget that for many it is also a time of financial hardship, stress, and anxiety. Seasonal affective disorder can rear its ugly head and there isn’t a pause button for the challenges of life. Kindness doesn’t have a season of course, but the holiday season is a good time to reflect on how meaningful simple acts of kindness can be. I helped a customer when I was working in customer service for a local outdoor outfitter many years ago. This customer was beside himself because the backpack he had ordered had gotten lost during delivery to his house and we were now out of stock. On top of that, he was leaving that day to visit his son in another state and the backpack was a gift, a gift that now he didn’t have. While he was on the phone with us, we were able to find the exact same backpack at a store where he was headed, issue a return credit, purchase the pack at that store, and put it on hold for him. After we had that all set, he broke down on the phone. It was only then that he shared that this was the first time he was going to see his estranged son in years, and camping with that specific pack was the most important thing he remembered from their previous time together. For us, it was just a little extra customer service, but it meant everything to him to be able to see his son with that pack in his hands.
So as cliché and simplistic as it may be to say, I think it is still worth saying. Be kind, and this holiday season, take a few moments to reflect on the impact that kindness has on the lives of others. It can be a powerful reminder to carry that kindness with us throughout the year.
Happy holidays everyone!
By Lee Bradford, General Manager