General Manager’s Report
from Brandon Kane, General Manager
Dear GreenStar Community,
With the opening of our new store at 770 Cascadilla Street, we’ve opened the door to exciting possibilities for transformation and growth. Thank you for your optimism and for your support of the Co-op as we continually adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and in navigating the operations of the new GreenStar.
I want to provide some context on the immediate challenges we’re facing as a result of the pandemic, share our plan to move forward, and provide assurance that growth is imminent as New York State continues its phased reopening and our new store becomes more in sync with our shoppers’ evolving needs.
To achieve our Co-op’s sales goals we rely on the average size and frequency of transactions. We are doing well on the average size of transactions, but it should come as no surprise that our customer count must improve. There are multiple contributors to a lower than budgeted customer count. Due to Department of Health recommendations, our customer count is limited to 50% of our building occupancy for the foreseeable future. This is OK for us because the growth we need to see in our customer count is well within this limitation. But certainly, people are shopping less frequently than prior to the pandemic, creating the need to bring in new customers to our Co-op in order to reach our budget goals. Without a secured license, we have not been able to sell beer and cider, which I expect to comprise about 5% of our weekly sales. As unemployment increases and more people work from home, we’re seeing fewer people frequent GreenStar for prepared breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even as the weather is ideal for outdoor dining, we can’t operate our hot and cold bars or allow for any outdoor or indoor eating areas at present. The protocols of social distancing and sanitation at our registers means that we process transactions at a significantly slower rate, which also contributes to a lower customer count. And if these challenges were not enough, we experienced a couple weeks of slumped customer traffic following the May 13 announcement of a GreenStar employee testing positive for COVID-19 and the Tompkins County Health Department’s recommendation that shoppers in the store on May 8, 9, and 11 quarantine for two weeks.
Under normal circumstances, we would be holding a grand opening event along with frequent product sampling and vendor demonstrations, but under these unprecedented conditions, we must be creative in maximizing the outstanding features GreenStar offers our current membership and a new audience of shoppers. I hope you agree – our new store looks amazing and has an exceptional atmosphere thanks largely to the pride GreenStar staff take in providing a clean and welcoming store, great food, and friendly customer service. The features of our new store rival our area competitors in quality and price. GreenStar is also distinguished in that it is a mission-drive Cooperative – autonomously managed and governed by members of our community.
I believe we have an excellent plan in place to overcome these obstacles and reach our potential. Our autonomy as a cooperative business gives us the unique opportunity to adapt our programs to be of service to more people in our community at a critical time of need. We are working over the next month to launch expansions to our programs and services to meet these needs and grow our cooperative membership.
- Effective June 22, we are expanding our qualifiers for the FLOWER program to include those who have been laid off from employment. Current members can apply for FLOWER. Our Member Services team is taking steps to expedite the application process. Applicants can use their 13% discount immediately upon submitting their application. We will also extend the discount to include previously non-eligible items, such as sushi, and refrigerated bread and dairy items. Co-op Deals and Co-op Basics will continue to be exempt from the FLOWER discount.
- Our goal is to begin offering Instacart Curbside Pickup service on June 16. We are recruiting now for positions to support this service.
- We also recognize that, with frequent cleaning procedures, there is a need for more support in the front-end to accelerate the checkout process. In addition to the recent hiring of cashiers, our Co-op Volunteer program will return in a limited capacity to provide support with bagging, register cleaning, line monitoring, and lot attending.
With strong advertising and community outreach behind our FLOWER program and improved affordability of our low-cost food options, we expect to see an influx of new shoppers. We’ve also just received our temporary beer and cider license, allowing us to resume the sale of alcohol. As Instacart Curbside Pickup has been highly anticipated by members and shoppers during the global pandemic, we will see an increase in sales activity through that platform as well.
Thank you to our supportive members, loyal shoppers, and customers who may be exploring GreenStar as their favorite full service grocery store. We’d love for you to share with us and others what you’re enjoying about the new store. Help us to get the word out about your Co-op!