Published on: November 6, 2015by Michael Sansolo
Food co-ops have an unusual and usually successful model. Born of the community they operate with unconventional rules such as having customers fill the roles of shoppers, board members and, oft-times, employees.
In many cases customers win special discounts by donating time working in the store. Some co-ops even require the activity.
The model works wonderfully except when it doesn’t. Then chaos and anger can follow.
The Albany (NY) Times Union reported recently on a major kerfuffle at the local Honest Weight Co-op, resulting in the president of the organization stepping down and a major part of the shopper-employee link disappearing.
As the now-deposed president said, the member workers weren’t nearly as effective as the co-ops employees. "Sometimes it doesn't pay to tell the truth because the truth hurts and they don't want to hear it," he said.
The members see it very differently. One told the newspaper, “We are a huge part of what makes the co-op different from any other grocery store.” Yet another said, "It all has felt so calculated. They have systematically tried to corporatize the store."
It’s hard to know what the co-op board meant to achieve, but in the end they lost a president because of a policy he advocated, yet implemented the policy anyway and stirred up anger among supporters. Rather than pleasing some of the people, the board seemed to upset them all.
A win-win situation can be an Eye Opener as can be a lose-lose.
- KC's View: