State of Our Co-op May 2024

State of Our Co-op

By: Matt Stanley, General Manager

We are well into our 50th anniversary year as a community-owned grocery store! On Saturday, July 20th, we will throw a birthday bash at the co-op. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more details!

Our First Quarter of the Year

Our first fiscal quarter is closed, and we continue demonstrating that the co-op is financially stable. In my previous update, I recognized that our financial position has stabilized, but we must continue growing co-op sales to generate consistent positive earnings. Positive net income allows our co-op to keep pace with rising operating costs, pay our staff more (more on this below), and pay our co-op member-investor dividends. Financial success is the foundation for growing our impact in the community and region during our second semicentennial.

For the first quarter of 2024, the co-op posted break-even earnings, and all major financial indicators – sales growth, gross margin, and personnel expense, for example – performed to our budget. The ice storm negatively impacted sales in January with a full-day closure and four additional days with shortened hours. Despite the storm, Q1 sales growth was 3%. We see more robust sales growth in February and beyond as members and shoppers respond positively to our promotional programs. The Buy One Get One free items have been a big hit. The 50% off bulk and produce department sales created lots of community buzz and made for many happy shoppers. Use of our weekly e-coupons continues to increase. Overall, members appreciate the co-op’s attempts to provide value during an era of high food inflation. Thank you for supporting these efforts!

Taking Care of Our Team

Like many of us, our staff also feels the burden of increased living expenses. Each year, the co-op uses a living wage model to calculate the hourly wage needed for a single person to live in Clatsop County without relying on public assistance programs. In addition to basic living expenses, the model includes things like modest personal savings. It also includes co-op contributions to total compensation, like co-op-sponsored health insurance premiums. When we made the calculation last year, the living wage model generated $17.63 per hour as the living wage.

Our team worked hard to do more with fewer staff members in 2023 as a critical way to manage our expenses. Financial stability allowed the co-op to respond to the increase in living wage by distributing pay raises to all staff in January of this year. We also made the new starting wage $17 per hour (up from $16). The median wage for non-salaried co-op staff is $18 per hour. We know there is more work to ensure staff can keep up with the rising cost of living. We’ll rerun the living wage model this year, and the living wage will likely increase further. Again, growing sales permit the co-op to budget for continued wage increases – our team is strong, and we can handle more sales! – allowing our dedicated and caring staff to live in this beautiful region we call home.

I hope that a more detailed breakdown of staff pay is informative. These updates aim to teach our membership about the successes and challenges that the business we all co-own faces. You can help us grow sales by prioritizing grocery shopping at your co-op and telling your friends and neighbors about co-op membership and the great deals we regularly offer.

We’ve started 2024 with other exciting developments, including our co-op speaker series that invites local non-profit organizations to share their work, the flashing beacon crosswalk nearing completion at 23rd and Marine Drive, and the replacement of the shelving and lights in our produce coolers for a well-timed refresh as we enter the busy summer months.

Thank you again for your continued support of our co-op!

In cooperation,