By Brandon Kane, General Manager
In the spirit of the season of gratitude, I want to thank you for your support of GreenStar Food Co-op. As a member-owner, owner-volunteer, producer, or shopper, you are the reason GreenStar continues to thrive. When you attend Co-op events, provide suggestions, and participate in our democratic process, you lead the way in affecting the direction and future of our cooperatively owned business.
Right now, you can participate in two different surveys posted online. Our annual Customer Satisfaction Survey — for both member-owners and shoppers who have not yet joined the Co-op — is available until Nov. 30. In preparing to expand our product line, we’re also inviting recommendations for brands and products that you’d like to see on the shelves of our new store at 770 Cascadilla St. You can enter to win one of three $50 gift cards for each survey you complete. We value your participation tremendously — your insights on product selection, pricing, and customer service, as well as your support in our movement toward our co-op’s goals, are extremely valuable as we progress in relocating our flagship store and improving our business.
As I reflect on the many things our co-op has to be grateful for, I’m reminded of our triple bottom line — People, Planet, Prosperity. Our hardworking team of staff, owner-volunteers, committee and Council volunteers, and nearly 13,000 member-owners is what makes our co-op successful. Over 25 percent of GreenStar’s annual sales (that’s more than $22 million) are of goods produced, grown, or owned within 100 miles of Ithaca. The work of our local family farms and producers is greatly appreciated, and we love to support it.
With respect and gratitude for what’s provided through our land locally and globally, we take our responsibility to sustainable practices seriously. In addition to our commitment to purchasing solar offsets since 2011 and to utilizing 100-percent solar power in our new store location, GreenStar has eliminated single-use plastic grocery bags and continues to work toward increasing the use of compostable food-storage bags and, in 2020, eliminating single-use plastic water bottles for still-water options. I look forward to sharing more about this effort and our involvement with our national affiliation of cooperatives teaming up to eliminate plastic packaging from our stores.
Co-ops donate, on average, twice as much as conventional grocery stores in terms of the percentage of food directed to local pantries and food-rescue organizations. GreenStar is leading the way in food rescue locally. We’re grateful to be in a position that allows us to sponsor or donate to local charities and other causes.
The capacity to support our community and to open our doors to more people means that GreenStar’s sales must grow to keep pace with rising expenses, including the cost of living for our employees. In recent years, our West End location has hit a ceiling on growth because of the limitations of current facilities. Currently, our retail space accounts for only 14 percent of total square footage at our West End location, but with our plan for relocation and consolidation of operations under one roof, retail space will increase to about 50 percent of the total square footage we’ll have there. As a result, we can increase our product line and services, lower our prices, provide adequate parking, and offer community programs while remaining financially viable. My sincere thanks to the more than 150 member-owners who have met with our Capital Campaign Coordinators and invested in our relocation and consolidation efforts. Your investment is making this vision for the Co-op’s future a reality.
We’re excited to see multiple housing projects, among other development, emerge over the next couple of years within the immediate vicinity of the new location. This will add hundreds of potential customers while demonstrating the collective growth and development of our Ithaca community. The Co-op is a reflection of this community and its evolving needs, and our relocation will allow us to reach out even more effectively to marginalized groups, better serving everyone’s needs and creating a co-op that is truly welcoming to all. Thank you for cooperating together to bring us to this wonderful point in GreenStar’s history.