Recently one of our staff met some friends shopping in another local grocery store and got into the conversation as to why they didn't shop at the Co-op instead.
The answer was, in short, that our prices are too high. That drove them to shop at a large supermarket that does sometimes have better prices because they buy in enormous volumes nationwide; but their profits flow out of Yelm back to their home state providing little long-term benefit to Yelm.
This conversation was passed on to our past Store Manager, and present Board of Directors Vice-President, Aaron Rodgriguez. His reply beautifully responds to the issue which has been one we have heard since we opened the store in 2007. Here is his reply to our staff member regarding her friend's comments:
“Do these people live in Yelm? If so, ask them if they know what it means to their community to support the YFC. Whole Foods is significantly more expensive than we are so I would ask that person to cost compare us.For the person who says we are too small, tell him or her that the more members we have the more support exists to move to a larger space. If they shop at Oly Co-op let them know that it took Oly 10 years to add the second store and we are in year 4 and looking to move.At the end of the day, we can't convert everybody, so let them know that you will still be their friend even after we move to our new location with all of the wonderful space and amenities but that you will never let them forget how short sighted they were ; )Also let them know that shopping at the Co-op is investing in the growth and prosperity of Yelm and if
they can't see that then they can continue to shop at Safeway until the distribution channels are interrupted and food no longer appears on the shelves as readily as it once did and that priority will be given to those who have shared the vision of the Co-op from the beginning.Lastly, feel free to tell them that they could easily volunteer 5 hours a week and receive a 20% discount on groceries that would make us the best deal in town.”
Part of the reason we are driving hard towards expansion is to be able to buy in larger quantities and to be able to take advantage of supplier specials which will allow us to pass on the savings to our members and customers and at the same time allow us to maintain the margins we need to pay for more staff, buy equipment, maintain what we have, modernize systems, etc, etc in order to provide ever better levels of service and improve the shopping experience for everyone.
The larger stores also have the ability to spread their margin requirements across a wider range of products many of which do not meet the rigorous quality standards that we have set for our products. Your store's motto follows our mission statement of providing the highest quality merchandise that we can. It has never been “Always Low Prices!”, it has always been
“Always Best Products!”.
Please hang in there with us as so many of you have from our very modest beginnings in April 2007. Your continued patronage and support through member fees and donations and volunteering will help us grow our store to the level we all want to see it at.