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My Days at the Co-op

Mike Houston

My wife and I love celebrating how many days old things are. We celebrated our 1000th day of dating, our 1000th day of marriage, and we each invited friends to parties for each of our 10,000th day of life.  If you’re wondering, it’s a little more than 27 years and 4 months. It’s something we enjoy. In that light, February 1st will be my 150th day as the new General Manager of the Co-op.  Those days have flown by, but I’m also amazed at all the wonderful things we’ve accomplished in that short time. I always get joy from looking back at the sum total of all those days.  I always find they are worth celebrating.

The Co-op Board and I completed a lengthy mediation with Neighborhood Development Corporation about the future Takoma Junction development that resulted in a cooperation agreement. Many hours of work and thought went into protecting the operations of the Co-op through this agreement. I got to attend my first Member Meeting in October and hear from our dedicated and thoughtful member-owners. I attended a National Cooperative Grocer conference in Minneapolis and got to meet and interact with managers from Co-ops all over the county. I can’t tell you how many hours I could happily sit in a room and talk about the business of running a grocery store with others in the know.

Transitioning from working in Rockville for the last six years, it has been thrilling to meet everyone in Takoma Park and seeing local events for the first time. The Street Festival was an impressive array of vendors with near perfect weather. It was wonderful to see so many people in Takoma Park shopping local for Thanksgiving and the December holidays.  We even had some fall fun at the Co-op with our first annual Heirloom Apple Festival with local farmer Mike Tabor.

The staff of the Co-op has been a true revelation for me. Everyone in the store does such a tremendous job getting products onto the shelf for our customers, making friendly conversation as they check out, keeping the Co-op clean and coordinating with all of our wonderful local vendors. We’re running a small city within a city every single day for 1000 visitors, and our staff meets every challenge presented to them. I’m impressed with all that they’ve done before I got here, and I’m thrilled to work with our managers and the employee Union to make TPSS a model employer in the grocery world.

I’m looking forward to using this space to update our members on the Co-op, on happenings both big and small. I’m inviting staff, vendors, members and the community to submit pieces to our TPSS Blog about anything related to the Co-op and our local food system. Food touches so many interesting pieces of our lives: the environment, access to healthy food, the economy, nutritional education and health. The Co-op can be a resource for learning about and improving all of these different areas.

I know we have a lot more to do and to accomplish together, so I’m looking forward to all the days ahead, and remembering to celebrate each one of them.