Mike Houston, General Manager
My wife says I’m too confident. Actually, that’s not what she says, she says “you think very highly of yourself”, which is even more on the nose. She’s not wrong. I lack for plenty but self-esteem is not on the list. I speak declaratively more often than not. In college I created a list of the top 500 songs ever written, in rank order. I made an incredible seafood stew the other night, just the best.
When you have overconfident man syndrome, having a partner that will call you on your *stuff* is important. The very first night we met my wife took me down a few pegs at a party, which is exactly why we’ve been together for 10 years. You need someone that will look directly at you and say “you couldn’t possibly be more wrong.” Otherwise you melt in a puddle of self-aggrandizement and seafood stew.
I share all that to say that when I walked into the door here two years ago as the new General Manager, one thing stood out: we were really good at running this store. The sales floor just worked. Our buyers had a routine down for ordering. Cashiers memorized customers’ member numbers. We gave an extremely high level of customer service. We had procedures for special orders, bulk containers, cleaning, stocking, you name it. Employees knew their departments inside and out.
Moreover, we rarely showed our work. The store operated so seamlessly because of years of honing processes, working together, specialization of duties and big picture thinking. It’s actually all quite difficult when you zoom out, but it likely didn’t feel that way from a customer perspective. Hundreds of vendors, thousands of products all coordinated successfully, many out the door the same day we received them. You could forgive us if we thought highly of ourselves.
So, the last ten weeks have been humbling. It’s hard to feel like you know exactly what you’re doing, what your eight hours at work will look like from start to finish, and then have that all completely upended. It’s like signing up for a Philosophy 101 course, then showing up and being taught Geometry.
Today we received our 10,000th online order. Serious fans of this blog will recall I’m a fan of round numbers. As I was marveling at that number, I saw the staff stocking the large delivery before we began filling orders. There were Cashiers, and people that work in Wellness and Produce and Grocery all working on getting the order stocked. Then all those folks will transition to their new roles picking orders, warehousing them and getting them out the door. What we’ve all learned about the full operations of this store will serve us in the months and years to come. It’s been difficult, but it’s also incredible to see people breaking out of their routines, learning new things and coming together to do what we collectively need to do to feed our community.
Speaking of feeding the community, our new same day shopping option Co-op To Go-op is helping us to do just that. A menu of 20 different premade boxes and bags from Grocery to Produce to Beer and Wine are available for contactless pickup in minutes. Visit the big white tent, order your items, pay at our terminal with credit, debit or EBT/SNAP and your order will be brought outside. And, yes, we can grab you that one item you’ve been craving but can’t get on our online store at the same time!
I’m also so thrilled that we were able to add single item produce back into our system. As the summer growing season begins, we’ll have harvests from our local favorites, and the fresh organic fruits and vegetables you love and expect.
We are continuing our partnership with Crossroads Community Food Network to double spending on fresh fruits and vegetables for SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) recipients. Orders placed through the website, or produce boxes purchased at Co-op To Go-op with a SNAP/EBT card will be discounted 50% off through the Fresh Checks program. Food access remains a key issue, perhaps now more than ever for our community, so we ask that you help us amplify this message to let people know they can take advantage of making their food dollars go further.
Our staff all remains healthy and gratefully so. We hope that you and your family, friends and loved ones are as well, and special thoughts for those out there who are not. We’ll look forward to providing more news and exciting updates in the near future as we never stop working to improve. This continues to be quite the journey and we’ll all have stories to tell when we can see each other again. I’m overconfident of that.