January 2014 newsletter recaps year in review, introduces weekend waffles and new products, highlights nearby co-ops, and some information about board activities.
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2013 Year in Review

Coastal Organics Cooperative turned a corner in 2013. With the enthusiastic support of the community, our natural food grocery store, Arena Market and Café, grew in many ways.
 
We started the year with Linda Kneifel as our General Manager. Linda brought enthusiasism and marketing skills as well as interest in learning our point-of-sale cash-register system. She tuned into our shoppers’ wants and needs and introduced some great new products. During her management, the store restructured the staff that placed Mike Sakellaridis on the floor as Grocery Coordinator and hired Andy Riggs as Kitchen Manager. Andy brought clarity to our deli food costs and prepared our Valentine’s Day Dinner Fundraiser. We amassed almost $500 from that event and earmarked the funds for our failing walk-in refrigerator compressor, which we just replaced thanks to several generous contributors!
 
After examining our perilous financial situation, the board worked on ways to save money during the year. Our liberal 5% discount was expensive and we asked the membership to approve cutting it down to 2%. True to the magnanimous and altruistic nature of our coastal community, the majority of co-op members decided to forego all discounts and help us turn red into black! 
 
In early summer, Linda left us and we hired Mike Sakellaridis as interim manager. He has since been appointed our General Manager. Mike brings his incredible passion and verve for natural foods, his wholehearted commitment to our co-op, and his penchant for excellence in customer relations, all of which creates a more enticing experience for shoppers. Mike grew up around restaurants and his business management skills are taking our store to a favorable outcome. He is also a techie kind of guy who has embraced our point-of-sales system, Catapult, and his iPod Touch. Look out for Mike wandering the store making orders as he goes!
 
Our wine department was revamped by Dan Wormhaudt, a dedicated board member. He looked at our margins and the fact that we sell more reds than whites by at least 3 to 1. He crafted a new selection that has proven to be favorable and supported by our customers. Many outstanding local wines were introduced as well as delicious French imports at reasonable prices. Dan also was the man who arranged for the amazing artisan cheeses from Pennyroyal Farms, affiliated with Navarro Vineyards, that are now available for your enjoyment!
 
Board members once again stepped up to improve the store's appearance and the purple swirl was painted off the wall. Some benches were removed to allow for better seating, some pillows mysteriously appeared and voila! the Café area was gently transformed. 
 
One of our members was responsible for the Propane Buying Club. He arranged a discount offer for co-op members to purchase propane from Suburban Gas at cut-rate prices. We have had people join the co-op just to get the incredible low price on propane! Many thanks and kudos to this member’s awesome initiative and strong engagement with our community!
 
The Bulk Department is undergoing remodelling by Phil Clark, another board member. Look for oils, honey, tamari and other new bulk items appearing there soon.
 
Two new board members were elected at our membership meeting held in September, Molly Morgan and Rick Beach. We now have a full board of directors and great progress is made for the financial stability of our co-op each day as Rick continues his behind-the-scenes contributions that have provided valuable financial expertise in helping the store stay open!
 
Early indications of our financial results look promising for the full year of 2013. We expect a more complete report in the next month.
 
With the help of the community, the co-op stands stable with a bright future.

New Products

Just arrived. Organic tangerines grown in California. 5-lb bags at $5.99 each.

Like the Arena Market and Café page on Facebook for frequent updates
 

Weekend Waffles

Something smells good! Try real maple syrup, organic fruit, whipped cream on freshly cooked organic waffles.

 

Other Co-ops Nearby

Another new product line appeared recently, Organic Valley dairy products. As a farmer-owned agricultural cooperative (their web address is in the .coop domain), Organic Valley serves the farmers who provide the equity to run the business. Each farmer has one vote, rather than votes by shares owned by stockholders. This cooperative model supports the 1,834 farmer-owners, many of whom are smaller and rural organic farms.
 

Of course, those of you who travel to Ukiah may shop at the Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op. They are also a member cooperative and their staff have provided Arena Market with assistance over the years to improve our business.
 

Perhaps a surprising example of a nearby cooperative are Ace Hardware stores. The stores operate independently as part of the largest cooperative in the hardware industry. Each of the 4,100 Ace Hardware stores join the cooperative as members, pay no royalty fees on sales, then receive profit distribution based on their membership activity. The co-op serves its members as owners of the business.

Prepaid Store Credit

During the fall, the co-op sought willing members to pre-pay for store purchases. By paying $100, $500 or in some cases $1000 or more in December, the co-op built up a $20,000 cash balance that will help pay bills through the lean sales period during the winter months. (Where do people go?) The period from after Thanksgiving until spring represents the lowest sales during the year. This prepaid store credit program helps shift the cash deposits now and allows members to purchase groceries later on their customer house charge account.

Thanks to the 20+ co-op members who prepaid into their house charge accounts.
 
If you are curious or still interested, please see Mike at the co-op.
 

Comparison Shoppers

Some recent comments from co-op members suggest that prices at the Arena Market and Café may be lower and more competitive than many people realize. Apparently, Walmart carries Mrs. Meyer’s soaps for dollars more than in Point Arena. And other grocery stores have limited organic offerings. How do our co-op prices compare?

If you can help comparison price items we sell, please contact Mike at the co-op.

 

Board Meetings and Minutes

The board of directors of the Coastal Organics Cooperative, Inc., meets monthly at the Huntley House in Point Arena. Regular meetings are scheduled start at 4 pm on the second Thursday of the month. Members are welcome to attend. 


Check the calendar on our website for last minute schedule changes. Minutes of past board meetings will also appear on the co-op website.
 

Copyright © 2014 Arena Market & Cafe / Arena Organics, All rights reserved.