Sunday, 02 February 2014 15:54
By Kristie Snyder,
GreenStar's newest retail department managers, Anna Stratton and Adam Morris, were hired just before the Co-op's hectic holiday season — that is to say, in late summer. Especially in Wellness, that is when the Co-op's managers start gearing up for the fall and winter holiday shopping season.
"We start ordering products for the holidays in August, so I got thrown right into it," Anna explained. "We had a great holiday season. The customers were happy and so am I."
Anna and Adam are both long-time GreenStar employees. Adam was hired nine years ago as a Grocery Assistant Manager, and Anna started seven years ago, working in the Deli and as a Wellness staffer. Both originally came to Ithaca for educational pursuits — Anna to study at the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine, Adam to attend Ithaca College.
They both love the Co-op's unique atmosphere. "GreenStar is a special little hub of Ithaca," Anna said. "We're part of the community — working here is almost like a community service." Adam noted, "I like the relaxed atmosphere — I couldn't wear a suit every day!"
For shoppers, both agreed that their departments offer variety and customer service that can't be found elsewhere. "We have a great variety of products, and they're all vetted for conscientious shoppers," Adam said. "We have strict product standards in the Wellness Department, too," Anna added, "and there's always a staffer who can help you or answer a question. We know many of our products are in tiny bottles that all look the same, so we're here to help you sort it out. We try to learn a lot about all of the products that we carry."
Having fun while working hard is another commonality between the two departments. "My assistants and I try to work really efficiently while still having a good time. It's a fun department to work in. Members sometimes notice us cracking up in the aisles," Adam said. Anna's staff is a small, tight-knit group, and "we work hard, stay busy, and have a good time," she said.
Anna cited surviving her first holiday season as her biggest accomplishment to date, and she credited Wellness Assistant Manager Gail Gumbert with much of her success: "Gail is amazing, and she carries so much responsibility that I have time to address other issues." Adam's challenges were more on the administrative side of things. "Getting everyone the schedule they wanted seems small, but it was a big thing," he said. He's also worked hard to get various systems running more efficiently, and to improve employee morale by opening lines of communication between staff and managers in the department.
Looking into the next year, the upcoming changes to the store layout should give both departments more space for new products. "We know we'll be expanding the beer selection to bring in more local and regional beers. We're really limited by space right now," Adam said. Anna is excited about adding another cooler for probiotics and essential-fatty-acid products. "With antibiotic use for Lyme disease so prevalent right now, we sell so many probiotics," she explained. "Right now if we want to bring in something new, we have to get rid of something else."
Both managers emphasized that, while they have a great selection, they can't carry everything, and customers can always special order products. "If you don't see it, we can special order it," Adam said. "Even beer!"
When asked their favorite part of the job, Anna answered, "picking out products for shoppers! I love the products, and I use them myself. Also, I really love my staff."
Adam echoed the latter. "I really like the people I work with," he said.
And favorite products? For Anna, Real Aloe Coconut Water. "It's so damn good! It has chunks of aloe in it... it's almost like bubble tea," she said. "Also, Oregon's Wild Harvest Organic Astragulus/Reishi capsules — I never get sick."
Adam prefers Lake Champlain organic peanut butter chocolate bars: "I'm not a huge chocolate person, but when it's mixed with peanut butter ..." He's also a fan of the bulk tamari almonds. What he buys the most of, though, is actually not consumed by him. What is it? "Baby food bags! They're so convenient and good!"
Did someone say vegan donuts? Why yes. We'll have them in the pastry case this month, along with clafoutis and fall desserts.
Boy, do we have some exciting news for you! We're cooking up vegan donuts, folks. Yep, you read it right — vegan donuts! We're still testing varieties as of press time, but we can...