Dear Cooperators –
Greetings from your Board of Directors and a Happy New Year to All!
This winter finds the co-op staff and board reflecting back on the challenging year that has come to a close and busily working to prepare for the future. Together we’re resolving to build the internal strength of our cooperative and to learn from the decisions of the past. As the holiday rush gives way to a quieter and more internally focused time of year, we are reconfirming our commitment to our core business – selling wholesome foods of all kinds, from organic apples to fresh made soups and sandwiches to high quality packaged groceries – and working to strategically position the co-op for its next phase of growth.
2007 was a dynamic year, full of change, growth, and excitement. The board’s decision to expand the store into the bakery business, although ultimately a decision which was reversed, was a valuable learning opportunity for both the board and the staff. We are confident that the lessons gleaned from this ambitious venture will serve us well down the road, whether we expand the current facility or look toward opening a second location. We appreciate the understanding and support of the co-op owners during this time and know that many owners continue to enjoy the expanded deli offerings that are a result of new staff and recipes that came out of this effort.
Tidal Creek experienced other challenges and changes in 2007, as well. Parking continued to be of concern, particularly as the rest of the space on the second story filled with successful businesses full of clients and staff. The expansion of the administrative offices and community room into part of the second story added much needed space for the growing staff to function efficiently, while providing some small protection from even more parking competition.
Each of these challenges carries some financial cost with it, meaning that the co-op’s surplus this year is much smaller than that of the previous year. As a result, the Board has determined that it is in the best interest of the store to retain what slight profit the store did make to provide for cash flow needs and financial stability. This carefully considered decision gives all of us, as owners, the opportunity to reflect on the true nature of cooperative business. Under the international cooperative principles, the owners share in the success or lack of success of each year of business.
In reality, times have been hard this past year. The price of fuel and consumer goods are up, in some cases dramatically. For those of us living at the end of the line, transportation costs are being passed on to consumers without most of them even realizing it. Perhaps that should lead to the logical conclusion that eating regionally is the next revolution for cooperatives to tackle, but that’s a topic for another article. For now, it’s enough to say that there will always be good years and bad years. For those of us who own this business together, there will be some years we get a healthy patronage refund, (Remember that the more you shop, the more you get back – it’s based on patronage.) and there will be other years where it makes more sense to keep our shared resources where they can be of the most use – in the store. This was one of those years.
The Board continues to welcome comments, questions and concerns regarding Tidal Creek’s vision, mission, values and future. Owners are welcome to share their thoughts at an open comments period at the beginning of every Board meeting. Also, owner forums continue to be monthly events at which one or more board members are always available to speak with interested owners.
Thank you for your continued participation in Tidal Creek. Here’s to 2008 being a year of peace and prosperity. Be well!