By Sarah Christensen, General Manager, Co-op Owner
We get a lot of questions and a lot of feedback here at the Co-op. We get feedback about the soup, prices on produce, legislature, and brands we carry, to name a few. On any given day we’ll get questions about diets, supplements, where’s the best place to buy shoes in Mt. Pleasant, and what’s a good repellent for ants. Whether it’s a comment or a question, in both cases the topics are vast and diverse.To me, the fact that people trust us with both their feedback and their questions speaks to the sense of ownership our community has when it comes to the Co-op and that we’ve established ourselves as a trustworthy business.
Sometimes feedback, constructive or passionate, can be hard to hear. Our employees (myself included) care a lot about the Co-op too. We literally put our blood, sweat, and tears into this place. We care about it as much as you do. We take pride in our work. When the Co-op wins, we win. When the Co-op loses or something we try fails, we feel it for sure. But we want your feedback anyway, because feedback means that you care. Feedback means that you think we’ll hear you and do something about it. Feedback means that we’re in this together and that, my friends, is the essence of cooperative business. So please keep the feedback coming; it’s how we get better. It’s how we know what you, our Owners and shoppers, want, so whether it’s about products, prices, or values, let us know.
In the fall of 2015, we did a customer survey, as a structured way to get your feedback. In total, we had 216 people take the survey, which was a 53% increase from 2012. Thank you to those who took the time to answer our questions. Overall, the results were positive. We were happy to hear that you’d likely recommend us to a friend and that your overall satisfaction with the Co-op is high. We’re also focusing on some of the things you don’t like about the Co-op. It was no surprise to us that our prices are high compared to other retailers in town. We know that organic products are available everywhere now. Even Rite Aid has an organic section! I was at Target a few weeks ago and saw a Kale shirt. The pressure on price hurts GreenTree a little, because we’re small and often the cost to us is much greater than what Kroger pays, for example. In other ways, the prevalence of organic and natural products in other places mean that we’ve won. We accomplished what we, and so many Co-ops across the country, set out to do.
Back in 1970, when that group of Mt. Pleasant families got together to source natural foods, they did so because it wasn’t available elsewhere. Now look at the organic market in Mt. Pleasant! Look at the organic industry everywhere—at the risk of looking like George W. Bush on an aircraft carrier, I say “Mission Accomplished.” Clearly, there is more work to do. There is bettering and bigger-ing yet to come. Let’s do it together.
And keep the questions coming, too! We’re committed to making Mt. Pleasant a pleasant place to be, so if you need to know where to recycle batteries, or how to get a dog park pass, or what’s the name of that Korean restaurant (Shin’s), we are happy to help. Each question helps us be more connected to our community, too. If this article were a movie, this would be the part where we’d have a montage of people laughing, phones ringing, farmers bringing in delicious, local produce, and this song playing in the background.