Year Four: CGIN Progress and Plans
The end of the year always inspires reflection. While the numbers change almost every day, here's where things stand at CGIN as we close in on the end of 2001, a few months short of our fourth year of operations. At this point, CGIN has:
- 107 retail co-op members; 11 "associate" members (wholesalers, organizations, consultants, etc.)
- received scholarship contributions totaling $1,675 from members and given 19 "scholarships" to small co-ops to offer them a reduced annual fee
- posted 410 different items on our website, contributed by members for sharing with other members; 35% of these items are newsletter articles or job descriptions
- 200 deli recipes for exchange
- four different exhibits in the CGIN "photo gallery"
- 315 users subscribed to our listserve
- distributed 214 CGIN mousepads to its members!
In addition, I monitor CGIN's usage reports on a regular basis. In the past twelve months, usage has increased as follows:
- number of "user sessions" per month has increased by 57% to 3,422
- number of "page views" has increased by 44% to over 8,000/month
- average number of user sessions per day has increased by 273% to 258
- number of users who visit the CGIN site more than once per month has increased by 96% to almost 500.
In 2001, website user sessions per month increased 57%, and users who visited more than once a month increased by 96%.
We hope that we are correct in interpreting these results to mean that our members continue to find CGIN relevant and useful to the success of their co-ops.
Some of the new items we were able to add to our site for members in the past couple of months include:
- twelve newsletter articles -- including some about the new hemp foods/products regulations, canola oil myths, fair trade coffee, meat irradiation, and organics
- a consumer brochure about cooking beans, rice, and grains
- two sample annual reports
- a variety of membership information: new member packet, articles about changes to membership, membership forms, etc.
- an assessment form for the board of directors
- customer service guidelines and training materials
- a new sample general manager contract and bonus plan (we now have five sample contracts).
In addition, we have a series of articles being written by Barth Anderson of the Wedge Community Co-op about how to obtain organic certification for a store. Barth has generously contributed four articles to this series, with the promise of more to come. [For a report on retail certification, see p. 15 of this edition.]
Finally, based on recent discussion on the listserve and the request of members, we hope to be adding copies of letters from hemp product manufacturers to our site so you can print them out and provide verification to your customers or inspection officials in compliance with the Drug Enforcement Agency's new regulations.
CGIN's listserve helps keep co-op managers, staff, directors, and members connected every single day. Recent topics of discussion have included:
- Thanksgiving and fall sales trends
- board member access to store records
- financial benefits for members
- hiring outside the co-op community
- frozen foods
- antibiotics in meat
- ways to make co-op staff identifiable to shoppers
- installing new versus used store fixtures
- member equity systems
- customer or member service desks
- insurance benefits for employees
- and more messages on co-op dress codes (a perennial favorite!)
In January, we will be posting a new online publication on how to start a food co-op. This publication will be available to anyone (not just to members). However, members interested in printing and distributing copies (for free or for sale) will be able to purchase reprint rights through our site. We're excited about being able to make this resource available to groups working to start a new food co-op and look forward to working on more ways to use the CGIN site to strengthen existing and new co-ops.