By Angie Felton, Board Member, Co-op Owner
When we built the new store, we knew there would be growing pains. The Board and staff, but especially the staff, were going to be presented with so much new to learn and do. We knew there would be surprises. Despite years of planning and preparation, we knew that some of what we planned was simply our best guess; things like which departments and what days and times would be the most popular. Or what the favorite hot bar item would be.
But what we didn’t expect or plan as much for was the spike in shoplifting. Whether due to the new location, a by-product of the strangeness of pandemic times, or simply the thrill of it all, we are experiencing an increasing loss of product to shoplifters.
Recently, the U.S. child poverty rate more than doubled, rising from 5.2% to 12.4%, as living costs increased and pandemic federal relief programs expired. However, it’s worth noting that it’s not primarily food that’s being stolen, aside from a few instances like someone concealing a breakfast burrito in their pants or using bacon packs as makeshift pecs under their shirt. Instead, the most frequently stolen items have been jewelry, crystals, and products from the beauty section. The culprits are often quite young, not yet of driving age, and they visit the store in groups without adult supervision.
Here’s what you can do to help:
- Discuss the Consequences: If you have a young person in your household, it’s essential to have a conversation about the social, judicial, and moral costs of shoplifting. GreenTree is owned and funded by the people of Mount Pleasant, including teachers, postal workers, construction crews, CMU employees, and likely neighbors and friends of your household. These are the individuals bearing the brunt of these thefts. Shoplifters also risk being trespassed or prosecuted by local authorities. In a small town like Mt. Pleasant, anonymity is limited, and someone likely knows them, their parents, or their friends.
- Report Suspicious Activity: If you’re a shopper and notice anything suspicious, please alert a store employee. They are trained to handle such situations, and there’s no need to take matters into your own hands. GreenTree has an extensive security camera system, and your tip can be instrumental in addressing the issue.
- Support the Store: Buying more can make a significant difference. One estimate suggests that for every $1 in stolen goods, it takes $30 in additional sales to make up the loss. Every extra deli meal, gift card, bouquet of flowers, or bag of snacks you buy helps mitigate these losses.
- Show Kindness: The employees at GreenTree Co-op are known for their kindness. They didn’t sign up to be law enforcement, but they are now dealing with these challenges. A simple compliment, a smile, or a show of appreciation can brighten their day.
GreenTree Co-op Market genuinely cares about our neighbors, which is why we contribute to local organizations like after-school programs and food banks. If you or someone you know is facing food insecurity, consider reaching out to these organizations:
CMU Student Food Pantry (Open to CMU students)
1 Algonquin Ct., Mt Pleasant, MI 48858
Community Compassion Network (CCN)
1114 W. High St., Mt Pleasant, MI 48858
989-863-4449 (Food Pantry)
989-546-3340 (Infant Pantry)
Isabella Community Soup Kitchen
621 S. Adams St., Mt Pleasant, MI 48858
Greater Lansing Food Bank
Distribution is held monthly, please call for additional details.
Max & Emily’s People Helping People (PHP)
125 E. Broadway St., Mt Pleasant, MI 48858
Offering meals to people in need every Sunday from 11am-2pm
The Salvation Army – Mt. Pleasant Service Center
1715 S. Mission St., Suite B, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858
Additionally, you can explore resources from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and dial 2-1-1 for referrals to programs assisting with food, housing, financial aid, utility assistance, and more, available 24/7 statewide. Your support and vigilance can help us maintain a thriving and secure community. Thank you for your help and support.