Preparing To Grow

As this issue of The Morsel goes to print, the amazing professionals at Market & Johnson are sealing up our new building on North Barstow Street, installing windows and doors. The work you have been excitedly watching is going to start to move inside. No worries! We will be posting updates in both stores and online so you can see the exciting progress. Our timeline is still looking good for an October opening, our budget is holding up, and it seems as though all equipment will arrive on time.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on our ribbon-cutting ceremony on the opening day of our Menomonie location in August 2015. We were all absolutely exhausted, and it was surreal to see almost 400 people show up in our parking lot in the middle of a rainy, chilly day. That first day, customers were shoulder to shoulder throughout the store, hugging each other in the aisles, celebrating, and looking around at THEIR new co-op with shiny eyes. I just can’t wait for it to happen again!

Getting ready for expansion isn’t just about the building. Our fresh managers Jen, Layne, and Rachel recently held a meat summit and invited all of our local meat suppliers. A dozen of our family farms came, and we discussed the gifts and challenges of both farming and grocery. We shared the ways in which we think sales will grow in our Eau Claire location (hint: it’s a lot). Farmers who were there with us in 2015 recalled the difficulty for both farmer and co-op when we expanded, but also the support from both farmer and co-op, working together to manage supply and get it right for our customers. I am already looking forward to our annual meeting after being open for a year, where our graphs will show huge growth of local food sales.

And internally as well, we sure are a flutter! Staff all have extra projects on their plates, in addition to the day-to-day, to have us ready to operate. Every system, technology, and process at the co-op is under review, and lots of changes are happening at once. One change that will be of interest to our owners is the creation of an absolutely beautiful new owner packet and the addition of a new owner benefit. For years, both stores have had Owner Deals: items on sale for one month for owners only. Through the pandemic, the availability of these items has been inconsistent so we decided to reevaluate the program this year. In order to provide a more tangible benefit to our best supporters, we will be offering an additional 10% off every item on Co+op Deals for owners every sale period. This will make these deals easier to shop and easy to talk about for cashiers, and it add more value for our wonderful owners. Get ready! This change starts in June.

This article was originally published in the May/June 2023 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.

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