Sawa Kamara, TPSS Co-op Board Member
I recently spent two evenings at the Co-op, talking with and getting to know shoppers and member-owners. The best part of that time for me (other than the yummy snacks!) was learning about the special role the Co-op plays in our members’ lives.
I spoke with one long-time member who has shopped at the Co-op for more than 25 years, since the store was located on Sligo Ave. He explained that one reason he and his wife moved to Takoma Park was because of the Co-op. He most appreciates having a natural food store he can walk to.
But, he wasn’t the only one happy to share thoughts about the Co-op. When asking shoppers what they like about the store and what things they would like to see and change, I heard many suggestions.
Some highlights of Co-op praise included:
- “We love the bulk section, we like the autonomy that we have on buying the precise ingredients we need to use.”
- “I like the multi-cultural music.”
- “I like knowing that the food is real.”
- “The cashiers are really nice, I just became a member.”
- “I love everything about the Co-op.”
- “I come here twice a day.”
- “I can find foods that cater to my dietary restrictions. Since I am gluten free, I have many options.”
Here are some suggestions of things shoppers would like to see:
- “I wish we had community space; sitting area, cooking classes, sponsored events, and discussions.”
- “A hot bar would be great.”
- “I wish the produce was less expensive.”
And, there were some questions and concerns:
- “Do you guys do personalized order for things that I want?”
- “How come you guys don’t carry fish?”
- “If something were to happen to the Co-op, Takoma Park won’t be the same.”
A personal favorite was getting to share about the role of the Board. Some folks were unaware that they could attend a board meeting, which provides member-owners an opportunity to speak directly to the whole board. Board meetings take place on the 3rd Thursday on every month at 7 pm at Historic Takoma, across from the Co-op. You should come too!
In summary, I learned that members shop at the Co-op because they care about good quality food, food justice, equality, and fairness. They also appreciate the warmth of the workers who are friendly and willing to help. They like the diversity of the Co-op staff and enjoy learning about their various countries of origin. Most importantly, members cherish the democratic structure and operation of the Co-op, including being able to run for the board and having a responsive staff who take member feedback seriously.
I’m grateful for our passionate member-owners and am looking forward to hearing more from them.