December 2008

Volume 24, Issue 7

The FireStarter


Wanted: FireStarter Editor

Please contact the Board President, Jere Shaub, at 486-1350 if you are interested in being the new editor of the FireStarter, starting in January 2009. Earn an additional discount and have fun writing up the Co-op and community news!

From The Board of Directors:

~Reported by Mary Vaughn

The Board met for a full day retreat on November 19. Among other things, we discussed what it means to be a board, Board and committee responsibilities (see article further down) and we created a “dreams” list for the following year as well as a five-year plan. Following are our one-year dreams—not in any particular order (except for the first one, of course…).

Dreams for 2009

These were the Board’s dreams and ideas for our new Manager’s ideas and wish list (article follows). And when you finish reading, please take a minute to think--is there any way you can help out with any of these needs? Do you know of an inexpensive source for something on the list? Do you have tools or equipment or time available to donate to the Co-op so that some of these items could be checked off?
Thank you in advance for any help you can give!

Inventory

Come help out with Inventory on Sunday, December 28. It’s always fun AND a great way to give a little time to the Co-op!

From the Editor

This is farewell, Co-op folks. I’ve enjoyed being your Editor and working with the Board and Manager to get the news out. Right now, other responsibilities are becoming more of a priority, so I’ve decided to pass this privilege on to someone else. Are you interested?

The Editor works with the Board of Directors and is responsible to the Board for what is printed in the FireStarter, but doesn’t necessarily have to attend the Board meetings. As you’ve probably noticed, I usually include a report from the Board, one from the store manager, and then various articles from Board or Co-op members as well as announcements of interest to the community. If there are controversial articles, I clear them with the Board before printing.

Other than that, it’s been an interesting challenge to get a variety of articles, announcements, and viewpoints into this small newsletter. Contact Jere Shaub, Board President, at 486-1350 if you are interested.

Store News

~by Alice Simon, Manager

Co-op Members have been very generous of their time and resources this past month or two and so I want to give many thanks:

TO Thom, Michelle, Su I., Gary, Spurlin and One Pine for organizing a volunteer cleaning party on Election Night and doing a great job! The restroom was patched and painted and looks so much. Other areas of the store in need of deep cleaning were worked on and although there are many more things to be done, this initial work has made a big difference in appearance.

The group brought dinner and made a social event for the evening. They would like to do this on a monthly basis and could use additional help--participants earn credit toward additional discounts and whoever brings dinner for the group earns an additional 2 hours. If you want to join the group, please contact Su I. or store management to volunteer. (Volunteer cleaning help is a standard co-op activity and is a big help to staff members with limited time for deep cleaning. )

TO Michelle Hankin for bringing Dave's Killer Bread to our attention. Reception has been great. The spelt variety is so far the most popular but the entire line has really been a big hit. We plan to start using it for deli sandwiches.

TO River and Pam (Evolution Fitness) for working so hard with us to reset the vitamin and supplement dept. Looks great and is more user-friendly. River made the extremely useful shelf signs.

TO Loreen for donating her used office equipment for store and board use

TO Mary and Danny Vaughn for a vacu-seal packaging machine that we are using for Larkhaven and other cheeses that require special handling.

TO Adam and Mick at Cascade Cabinets for the donation of a section of counter top for the deli kitchen

TO Michael Breen, Marion and Jere, Peter James, and Si for helping to move fixtures for the professional floor cleaning.

TO Peter and Danny for rushing into the coop to help after the recent break-in. They came right in and fixed the broken door and adjusted the outside lights for better security. The culprit has been caught and has admitted to previous break-ins as well.

TO Liz Nelson who has been volunteering in the deli doing some baking. Also Chelsea and Pat who help with stocking on Sunday.

AND TO Rick Castor's Mom for her donation of art for the wall. You can see it hanging above the herbs --it’s a great addition.

OTHER NEWS: Sheila and Alice attended a trade show in Seattle recently to view and sample a wide variety of products for the store. Be sure to look for new items every time you come in so you won’t miss a chance to try some of our great new products.

Still working on the new deli menu with Susan, Sandra, and Cathy and hope to have it ready soon. We plan to blanket the area with menus and get everyone in town to try the coop for lunch.

The produce dept. is looking very spiffy. Sandra has recently assumed oversight of the area and her meticulous attention to the dept. is really showing. Great Work!

Feeling out of shape? Drop into Evolution Fitness and see if joining wouldn't make sense for you. Pam is an active Co-op member and a great fitness and nutrition resource.

We must organize a basement cleanout asap--do we have some willing volunteers? The basement is loaded with all kinds of junk...some useable and some pure junk but its a real mess and fire or accident waiting to happen! Years of accumulated stuff !

Stop by the store to wish Windstorm well as she prepares to leave the Co-op to work at the Aeneas Valley store much closer to her home. We hope she will visit us often. Come in and meet Jackie Bright, our newest staffer-in-training.

Why the Co-op Needs to make a Profit

~by Mary Vaughn

Profit is good. Profit is necessary! Here’s what making some Profit could do for the Co-op:

Right now the Board and Management are in a quandary. We are committed to the Co-op making a profit, because those things listed above are not just nice ideas, but are necessary for the Co-op. Right now the Co-op is not even breaking even. So the quandary is making the changes that will create a profit, while still providing good healthy food available to the community AND at the same time, paying our bills!

For instance, raising the prices of the sandwiches still just barely covers the cost of the sandwich, but puts it out of reach for some folks. What to do? Well, the Board has lots of exciting ideas, and we can see the Co-op thriving, once we can get the store out of the red. Also, we have smart, energetic and creative Management and Staff, and the Board is behind them all the way.

We are asking for your input, as changes are made, on how to walk this fine line. We need the support of you, the owner/members, and we also need to reach out to the larger community.

Got any suggestions? Come to a Board meeting! Call a Board member! We're all ears!

STANDING COMMITTEES

Building Expansion Committee
Danny Vaughn (Chair), Peter James, Rob Thompson (M), Gary Davis (M), Loreen Felstet, Sandy Gleason

Personnel Committee
Laura O’Brady (Chair), Karen Kochsmeier (M), Barb Millner

Finance Committee
Sandy Gleason, Gene DeLys, Jr., Danny Vaughn, Laura O’Brady, Karen Kochsmeier (M), Thom Speidel (M)

Board Development Committee
Mary Vaughn (Chair), Sandy Gleason, Karen Kochsmeier (M)

Membership Recruitment Committee
Jere Shaub, Loreen Felstet, Barb Millner, Alice Simons (Mgt)

Volunteer Recruitment Committee
Marion Shaub, Barb Millner

Design Committee
Mary Vaughn, Marion Shaub, Alice Simon (Mgt), SheBear (M), Rob Thompson (M), (and Patrice (M), for things online/web)

Garden Committee
Peter James, Sheila Ellington (S), Sandy Vaughn (M), David Kliegman (M), Karen Kochsmeier (M)

Vision Committee
Mary Vaughn, Peter James, Jere Shaub, Alice Simons (Mgt)

Grievance Committee
Sandy Vaughn (M) Chair, Marion Shaub--Standing Board Member

Highway Clean-up Committee
Loreen Felstet, Marion Shaub

Community Liaison and Education Committee
Peter James, Loreen Felstet

Board Policy Committee
Mary Vaughn, Sandy Gleason, Laura O’Brady

Fundraising Committee
Marion Shaub, Mary Vaughn

AD HOC COMMITTEES

Liquor Committee
Gene DeLys, Jr., Loreen Felstet, Alice Simons (Mgt), Mariah Cornwoman (M)

M = Member
S = Staff
Mgt = Management
Names with no designation after them indicate members of the Board of Directors

Why Does Food Cost So Much?

Are you concerned about the price of food in the Co-op? So is the Board. So is the Manager. We thought you might be interested in some of the reasons for the increases in the price of food in the Co-op.

First, there is the cost of fuel to ship products to this out-of-the-way valley. Even though gas prices have recently gone down, the food was produced while they were high and manufacturers and distributors have passed on the high gas costs to the store in the shape of high flat-rate shipping fees–in addition to higher costs for most food products..

Partly because of the above--and also just because of inflation, farmers and producers have had higher costs as well. Last summer they paid the high gas prices for gas for their tractors and harvesters and so basic food supplies now cost more than ever before.

Not a new cost, but one always with us, is the fact that our little store cannot buy in the big quantities that, IGA or Safeway or Wal-Mart or Whole Foods can. Because of this, the distributors charge the store more for the same items they are selling to the big chains for less.

And then we must consider the issue of additives and such. You know that the Co-op is committed to selling you the best food possible, with as few additives and preservatives as possible--ideally, with none at all. The fact is, these products--partly because there isn’t such a high demand for them in the marketplace--just plain cost more.

For instance, the cost of a jar of additive & preservative-free mayonnaise is significantly higher than a jar of name-brand mayo you could buy at any grocery. The same goes for the price of nitrite-free sandwich meat, pesticide-free lettuce & sprouts, preservative-free mustard & catsup, hormone-free cream cheese, and the tasty, healthy, preservative-free whole-grain bread. Of course you know all this, but when you are just wanting a sandwich, it’s hard to remember that the sandwich at the Co-op is really very special, indeed.

How special? Well, just for a reminder, here’s just a partial list of food additives that are not acceptable—and are not sold in the Co-op. This list was adopted by the Board of Directors in 1996. Just take a look at what you are NOT getting when you eat a Deli sandwich or buy other products in the Co-op:

artificial coloring * aspartame * benzoates * benzoyl peroxide * BHA * BHT * bleached flour

bromated flour * bromated vegetable oil * calcium sodium EDTA * calcium peroxide

calcium saccharin * cyclamates * dimethylpolysfloxane * EDTA * Equal (tm) * GMP

hydrogen peroxide * irradiated foods * lead-soldered cans * lye * methyl silicon

methylene chloride * monosodium glutamate (MSG) * nitrates or nitrites * oxystearin

polysorbates 60, 65 or 80 * potassium sorbate * propylene glycol * quinine * saccharin

sodium aluminum phosphate * sodium ferrocyanide * sodium nitrate/nitrite

sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate * sorbic acid * stannous chloride * sucrose polyester * sulfites

sulfur dioxide * tertiary butyhydroquinone

BUT–you might be thinking--can’t the co-op economize somewhere else and still keep the costs down to the members? Unfortunately, the answer is, “NO.” We are already economizing to the best of our ability. Wages for staff & management are low. Some store maintenance has been put off–for instance, there are cracked floor tiles that should be replaced. The chest freezer that holds your holiday turkeys had to be repaired recently, and the ice-cream and frozen foods freezer has just given up the ghost and needs to be replaced.

You may have known about the above. But, as a member, you also need to know that the store has been losing money during 2008.
Here’s a very quick overview of store finances for the past 3 months:

August 2008September 2008October 2008
Gross Profit$12.047.80$15,906.23$13,013.77
Total Expense12,522.3217,684.0615,659.06
Net Ordinary Income425.48 -1,777.83-2,645.29

As you can see by the above, the store lost a total of $4,423.12 during September and October, and November may give us similar figures. January through July there were 2 months when we had more income than expenses, but over all we lost several thousand dollars during that time period.

Now, factor in the Manager’s wish list–all items which are important for store maintenance, for improved staff efficiency or for helping to sell more products:

SO--what to DO? Well there are only a few ways to fix this sort of problem. One is to raise prices. We’ve done this a little bit, but are really reluctant to do more, though we may have to. Another way is to reduce expenses. A third is to look for grants or loans–and the Board is looking into these possibilities.

What can YOU do about it? Well, of course you can come in and buy stuff! Buy your very special indeed sandwich! Get your groceries here even if it does cost a little more, because you want the better food AND you want the store to stay open!

ALSO, you can help us reduce expenses by coming in and volunteering! (Call Marion Shaub at 486-1350 or call Alice in the store.) Every hour you help with cleaning, stocking, or working the cash register gives the store an hour of staff time it doesn’t have to pay for–it’s that simple! (And besides, it’s fun!)

No time to volunteer? You could tell the cashier you don’t want your 5% refund. Join the fund-raising committee and help put on an auction. Donate that perfectly good dishwasher you have sitting in the garage. Call your old boss and ask him to donate that back-door alarm they didn’t need. Help finish the remodeling and getting the new bathroom in.

Or just call Alice and ask her what she needs–there is always something that can be done to help. Please take a look at your schedule and see what you can do to help the co-op stay in business! The co-op is a very special business because it belongs to you–you are the owners as well as the customers. And right now your help is important. It is essential for keeping your very own special little store alive.

************************************************************************

We hope you have enjoyed this issue of The FireStarter.

The Co-op newsletter is published as a service to the members of the Tonasket Natural Foods Co-op.
Editing and Layout by Laura O’Brady; Online version layout by web'trice

Letters and articles are welcome from members. Deadline for articles is the 24th of each month. To ensure consideration of submission, please email to .

Views expressed in The FireStarter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the co-op management, directors, or membership. Acceptance of advertising does not indicate endorsement by the Co-op of the product or service offered.