SLO Natural Foods Member Benefits Updates
RE: Member Benefit Changes Starting August 15, 2017
* Your last day to use Daily and Double Discounts will be August 14th, 2017
Dear SLO Natural Foods Co-op Member-Owners:
We believe that our “Community at Heart” values and the cooperative ownership model are now more important than ever. As the Co-op approaches 39 years of service to the community and based on our belief that Member-Owners and shoppers want the store to grow and thrive in the future, we are making ownership benefits adjustments and implementing new programs, effective August 15, 2017. This adjustment to benefits sets the stage for our next generation of growth, continuing to provide even more quality food.
There has been a growing trend among co-ops to switch from daily discounts for Member-Owners to a patronage refund system. The patronage refund system returns a portion of profits to the owner/ membership based on their purchases throughout the year. In a time of financial pressures and increasing competition, this, in addition to other member promotions and sales, represents the most conscious and responsible way for SLO Natural Foods Co-op to operate and serve our triple bottom line of financial soundness, environmental stewardship, and social outreach.
SLO Natural Foods Member-Owners already approved the patronage refund system at a special Members’ Meeting in December 2016. However, adjusting the Member Benefit program to move away from daily and double discounts was not addressed at that time. One of the board’s primary concerns about moving from the current 3.5% daily discount and once monthly 7% double discount has been a fear of alienating and losing our customer base.
Conversations with Member-Owners over the last few months have indicated strong support for the co-op membership model and a desire to support a locally owned store. The discussions have been encouraging in the direction for long term growth and continued community engagement and support.
In addition, with our recent membership in the National Co+op Grocers (NCG), the Co-op is moving toward better overall pricing, so we believe it is the time to implement this change. In addition to the community benefits of local ownership and support of a co-op, Member-Owners will also receive:
SLO Natural Foods Co-op Member-Owners Benefits:
- Patronage Refunds in years the Co-op is profitable
- Seasonal Member Appreciation Promotions
- Monthly “First Friday” Specials
- Special Order Discounts
- Member Product Promotions
- Special Events Just for Members
- Voting rights at Annual and Special Member’s Meetings
- Feeling good about where you shop -- Priceless!!
Many co-ops have made this switch successfully as they have grown. It is our duty to foster an open dialogue with Member-Owners showing this change will create a stronger, lasting organization. A more flexible and creative approach to our Member-Owner promotional benefits and marketing strategies will ultimately improve the impact of our environmental goals and social outreach in our community.
The combination of reduced retail prices and existing Member-Owner discounts, have negatively impacted our profitability. Due to increased local competition, the last 12 month period has seen a decline in sales, impacting our profitability. If the Co-op had reduced the discounts in conjunction with beginning the patronage refund system in January 2017, operations for the year would be projected to return a modest profit.
While some shoppers see the very concept of “profit” as an anathema to the principles underlying the Co-op, careful and conscious handling of our monies, like any other business, allows us to keep operating. However, unlike a privately owned business, profits, after reserves for future growth, will be distributed back to our Member-Owners and receiving a year end refund in profitable years is a tangible reminder of the uniqueness of the Co-op. The combination of Patronage Refunds along with Member-Owner promotions provides a great way to serve Member-Owners and encourage other shoppers who have yet to become members.
We thank you in advance for continuing to support our “Little Store that’s Worth Finding.” Our board, working with General Manager, Gwen Schmidt, and the Co-op staff, will continue a thoughtful and cooperative evaluation of our marketing strategies, staff education and training, and an outline for determining and distributing refunds. While challenging, this process will serve to underscore that we are all in this together, and stand as a community to benefit from the continued success of SLO Natural Foods Co-op.
Your participation and feedback are always welcome as we continue to frame the Co-op’s community vision. See more information in the FAQ’s on our website, SLONaturalFoods.coop and send us your comments via email to email@example.com
, or drop a note in the comment box at the store. We also welcome you to attend the Annual Members’ Meeting at 1pm on Saturday, June 3rd
or sit in on a monthly board meeting.
Eric Michielssen, President
On behalf of the SLO Natural Foods Co-op Board of Directors