John Tashiro, General Manager
Happy November! It was wonderful to see so many of you at our Annual Member Meeting earlier last month! We enjoyed another great celebration with a fantastic turnout of about 600 Members in attendance at ECHO. The deep love and the level of engagement our Members have for the Co-op never ceases to amaze me.
And in just about two weeks’ time, our South End store will celebrate its one year anniversary! I recall writing to you this time last year, as we eagerly anticipated the opening of the store and had just received our first official delivery on Flynn Avenue. Our hard working and incredibly dedicated staff were working collectively with our vendor partners, national cooperative association and surrounding co-op friends to set up thousands of products on the shelves, test the registers and tend to the aesthetics to get us ready for our imminent opening. I can clearly remember when we first opened our doors that November 16th morning as if it were yesterday. We welcomed Members and customers as they came in enthusiastically and shared their first thoughts and impressions including, yes, you guessed it, how spacious the parking lot looked.
Reflecting back over the last 12 months and on behalf of our now 350 staff, we are so grateful for your continued loyalty and support of the Co-op across both stores. As you may recall, one of our goals with expansion was to transition some customer traffic from the Downtown store to the South End store. Up until last November, our Downtown store was one of the highest selling single store co-ops in the country. Since that time, approximately 20% of the Downtown store’s customer traffic has indeed migrated to the South End store as we had hoped. The Downtown store is still a bustling place to shop, but with a bit more elbow room to move around for both staff and customers.
From opening day through to the end of June (the end of our fiscal year), the South End store exceeded planned sales and we also exceeded our overall financial sales goals as a multi-store co-op. This was a fantastic start; however, we still anticipate that it will take 3 to 4 years before the Co-op returns to profitability, which was entirely expected considering the significant investments we’ve made over the past year. Because the Co-op only issues Patronage Refund checks in profitable years, once we achieve profitability, we’ll again recommend to the Board that we consider the Patronage process. Thankfully, there are many other benefits of Co-op Membership, including owning the grocery store where you shop, voting in the recent Board of Directors’ Elections, volunteering in the community for Member discounts, free reverse osmosis water and much more!
While we opened the South End in time for Thanksgiving last year, with our settling over the past year and your familiarity with both stores, we are better positioned this November to offer everything you need for a festive celebration - from local turkeys, pre-made side dishes, local pies and fresh produce to vegetarian and vegan options, host and hostess gifts and much more. Our pre-ordered local turkey options start at only $2.99/lb and you can order online through November 14th. See our updated turkey brochure for recipes and tips!
As always, thank you for your tremendous support as we work hard to serve you, our Members and the greater community, in the very best way we can. We are grateful for your ownership of the Co-op and your engagement with us in so many ways.