The Editor Notes

Values and ends

This publication's editorial advisory board recently approved a statement of ends and values for Cooperative Grocer:

  • Cooperative Grocer promotes cooperative values and principles; strengthens sharing of information and practices among consumer food cooperatives; and strengthens public and industry understanding of food cooperatives' social and economic impact.
  • We value the experiences and voices of practitioners as an essential guide to analysis; and we value a diversity of viewpoints reflecting ongoing practice.

Editorial advisory board

Elizabeth Archerd, Wedge Co-op
Jean Helms, Open Harvest Co-op
Jeannine Kenney, National Cooperative Business Association
Robynn Shrader, National Cooperative Grocers Association
Publisher Dan Nordley, Triangle Park Creative
Editor Dave Gutknecht

Cooperative fundraising

Following the June co-op conference, reported in the previous edition, the Cooperative Development Foundation and the trustees of the Howard Bowers Fund announced outstanding success in fundraising for co-op training and scholarships. Cash and pledges at the conference totaled $46,845. For more information on the Foundation or the Bowers Fund, contact Ellen Quinn at [email protected] or 202/383-5474.


  • Michael Funk, whose remarks appeared in the previous edition, is president of United Natural Foods but was listed as the CEO, his former position.
  • Willy Street Co-op, among the co-op conference award winners, was described as being on Madison's west side; they are proud to be on the east side, a different political statement in that town.
  • Comments from the Organic Trade Association concerning the previous edition's report from the Austin organic trade show, along with a response by writer Cissy Bowman, appear elsewhere in this edition.
  • An editor's error omitted a late revision of the report by Steve Phillips, manager of Boulder Cooperative Market. Here's his late July update:

    "In late April, when we got more accurate numbers, we realized we were still experiencing a shortfall of about 10% per month... We have since reduced monthly expenses by about $40,000 and increased gross margin by 3%. We now expect to see our first profit in September. Still facing a large debt, we are working to structure it in a way that enables us the time needed to stabilize the business. With an 8% slump in summer sales, one of our current challenges is to increase sales again to $12,000 plus per day. We are focusing our marketing efforts on the large student population....We feel positive about the future of our co-op; however, the first year of a brand new co-op in a highly competitive market does not come easy."

Consumer education

Taking a stand on urgent public issues, rather than using a shield of "neutrality," is an ongoing choice, and members and the public often expect leadership from cooperatives.

A fine example was offered recently, in response to the alarming depletion of the world's ocean fish populations, by the manager of the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op:

"At SNFC, we hooked up with the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program about a year and a half ago. We follow their guidelines and have used their personnel to do trainings for our staff and seminars for our customers. On their advice, we eliminated about a dozen species (and a few canned seafood products). After a few weeks of customer questions and concerns, the customer response has been great, with seafood sales increasing more than 50% since the changeover."

Even though this kind of active stance will be controversial for some cooperatives, the larger world scene demands it. To take another example, co-ops have an opportunity to address the issues of public policy and funding for sustainable agriculture, covered elsewhere in this edition.

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