A letter to our community,
It’s been a wild few months in the grocery world. Our staff has handled the pressures of this pandemic with extraordinary grace, flexibility, and grit. In the beginning, like most grocers in the pantry-loading days, we were slammed! Sales more than doubled and so did truck sizes. Almost as quickly, manufacturers were experiencing out of stocks and our distributors began limiting how much we could buy at once. We had to carefully order the right amount of the right product, with little room for error. As a consumer you likely experienced some products being out of stock on the shelf. During this strain on the national supply chain we were able to leverage our local farmer, vendor, and distributor relationships to offer replacement brands/products. (This may be the most important and critical lesson of the pandemic—a robust local food system can save a community when national and global food systems fail and local farmers, vendors, and producers deserve our enthusiastic support all the time, not just in a pandemic.)
We quickly launched a curbside shopping option as way to reduce both customer and staff exposure. At its peak, our curbside sales were 25% of store sales, reducing daily customer count by a third while doubling the average basket size. We implemented shero/hero pay to try and acknowledge the risk our employees now faced. Operationally, we were also dealing with changes in order deadlines, the sudden stoppage of cardboard and recycling pick-up, and a staff that shrank from 16 to 12. The pressure was on! And of course we were keeping up to speed on the latest executive orders, implementing appropriate protocols, and trying to discern between fact, fiction, and opinion regarding everything Covid.
Oh yeah and in the middle of it all we are planning and building a new store – no big deal. 🙂
I share all of this because I think it’s important for Co-op Owners and customers to get a small glimpse of the rapid transitions our staff has endured over the last four months. Being essential is a blessing with regard to job security and (not but) it meant that our re-opening plan wasn’t a week or two weeks or a month away, our re-opening plan had to be implemented tomorrow and again the next day, and again the next day and, well, you get the point.
And now for face mask enforcement –
As stated in the governor’s most recent executive order face masks are required to enter the store. We are currently offering them free of charge to customers. We also have free face shields for those unable to medically tolerate a mask. (Note: These are not free or cheap for GreenTree). Children under 5 are exempt from this requirement.
For those unable to medically tolerate a mask we’re also offering a variety of curbside shopping options; our online store https://www.mercato.com/shop/greentree-co-op, calling or emailing an order, or even handing a staff person your list while you wait outside. We understand that this is upsetting for some folks, but in order to protect our staff and customers we believe this is the best route.
That said, we won’t tolerate yelling or threatening behavior from customers or Owners, whether it’s directed at a staff person or another shopper or the government. The Co-op is not the place for your rants or anger. Our staff members don’t have the time to debate the politics of mask wearing. We are busy. Plus, we have been through too much already. Being a front line worker in our store means that we each interact with dozens of people a day, this is scary enough.
The well-being and safety of our staff is a top priority and we appreciate your support and cooperation in this matter. This is a difficult time for everyone, but with a commitment to cooperation we can get through it. I speak for the entire staff when I say, the heartfelt gratitude, the kindness, and encouragement, as well as gifts, from so many of you has made these garbage times (thanks for the descriptor Andrea D) that much easier. We look forward to seeing you in the store or at the curb.