Message from General Manager: Co+op Basics Expanded and Now Discount Eligible!

Dear GreenStar Community,

Values have been woven into GreenStar’s product line since our inception in the early 1970s. Qualities such as natural, organic, local, fair, accessible, and affordable can be found throughout our bylaws, policies, and Certificate of Incorporation. It is our responsibility as Co-op operators to translate these values to reality through the daily operation of our stores. It is a rewarding and sometimes difficult job to accomplish, particularly because the added values of our product line often lead to higher prices on our shelves. Far too many members of our community have avoided supporting our Co-op simply because they cannot afford to do so. This has led to a history of exclusion that must be addressed.

According to a 2018 study by feedamerica.org, 14% of Tompkins County residents are food insecure. Food costs have risen sharply by nearly 6% in the last year. At the same time, we are facing a major economic recession. These two factors will work together to worsen the already unacceptable magnitude of the hunger gap in our community. GreenStar is in the unique position to have a significant impact in addressing this social inequity.

With a wide variety of values and principles to consider on a daily basis, it is challenging to conceive of how to incorporate them all in a meaningful way. As a result, it is most helpful to consider GreenStar operating under a hierarchy of values, even if this hierarchy consists of just two levels. Our top priority as a food cooperative, put simply, is that everyone eats. This means that GreenStar will strive to maintain a product line that is accessible and affordable to as many as possible. After we ensure that we are continually striving to accomplish and improve upon this primary goal, we fold in our added principles, which include but are not limited to local, organic, fair, natural, and sustainable.

With the guiding principle in mind that everyone eats, we are committed to broadening our product line to include affordable options within every possible category. While GreenStar’s product line is traditionally strictly natural and organic, we are also offering conventional items.

The addition of Essential Everyday and Equaline brands has allowed us to provide good quality, lower-cost choices, not unlike the store brands of our competitors. It has not been lost on me over the course of my 15 years at GreenStar that the majority of our customers do a limited amount of shopping at the Co-op and turn to our competitors to fill in the rest of their weekly grocery list. A self-imposed limitation of not offering a comparable and affordable option is a sure-fire way to slowly go out of business, which will ultimately serves no one. More immediately, this dynamic fuels also drives exclusivity, creating an economic barrier to shop at the Co-op for far too many members of our community. And as I alluded to, this barrier is rapidly growing in our area.

GreenStar has also expanded our food access membership program known as FLOWER, The many qualifying options for FLOWER membership have recently been extended to include those receiving unemployment. New FLOWER-eligible GreenStar members receive a one-year free trial membership ($5 annual equity payment thereafter) and a 13% discount off every item in our stores, with the exception of sales items such as Co+op Deals (noted by shelf tags).

The FLOWER discount, as well as the discount for staff, seniors, people with disabilities, and volunteers is now being extended to include our entire Co+op Basics line, ensuring that when it comes to accessibility, GreenStar is truly putting its money where its mouth is.

GreenStar shoppers are no doubt already familiar with our Co+op Basics program  branded by purple shelf tags throughout our stores. Our expansion of affordable options is further achieved  through this program, which features everyday low prices for all (many that are local, natural, and/or organic), regardless of whether or not one is a member of GreenStar.

Across the board accessibility is the heart of the guiding principle of everyone eats. GreenStar will always be your go-to store for a cornucopia of local, fresh, and natural foods. What we offer continues to grow as we grow. Our expanded product line gives our customers the power of choice. Everyone should have the option to trade up or down within every category based on their own motivating factors – their values, personal preferences, or cost. If we are to truly be the accessible cooperative business we strive to be, then no one should be unable to shop the Co-op.

This is the epitome of the power of cooperation. GreenStar is not driven to produce a profit beyond what is needed to cover our expenses and stay in business. We are beholden to our community of Co-op members and shoppers rather than a few elite owners and shareholders. We have the ability to be the change we want to see in the world. I am so pleased to see that we are not letting this opportunity pass us by. Please help spread the word and grow the support of our Co-op.

In cooperation,
Brandon Kane