Tag: membership

  • Introducing the Co+op Explorers | 08.23.2016

    Co+op_Explorers_Facebook_Graphic_Introduction_403x270

    Kids ages 12 and under are invited to become a Good Earth Market Co+op Explorer and be eligible to receive one free banana per visit! To become a card-carrying Co+op Explorer, kids simply need to bring a parent or supervising adult to the customer service counter and ask to become a Co+op Explorer. Each child will be issued their very own super official Co+op Explorers card!

    Then, once kids are signed up, here’s how it works:

    Kids and parents stop by the customer service counter, where we keep the designated Co+op Explorers banana basket. Next to the banana basket, you’ll find a smaller basket containing Co+op Explorers stickers. Take a sticker and put it on your child’s shirt or jacket (that’s so staff will know your child or children are banana eating Co+op Explorers, and they can account for it at the checkout counter. Then, each child is eligible to take one banana and enjoy eating it while you shop.

    When you check out, please remind the cashier that your child or children ate a free banana as part of Co+op Explorers so that we can track participation in the program.

    That’s all there is to it! If you have any questions, please ask any staff member.

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  • Earth Day Membership Drive | 03.18.2016

    Our last membership drive was so successful, we’ve decided to do it again! From now until Earth Day, anyone who becomes a GEM member or who renews their membership before Earth Day (April 22) will have their name entered into a drawing for a $50 GEM gift card.

    Membership is a great value for only $10! Benefits include a once-a-month 5% discount, member specials, and a vote and voice at GEM’s meetings, among others. Plus, your commitment supports a locally-controlled food system.

    Gift_CardOn Earth Day, April 22 at 3pm we will draw for the gift card, and you don’t even have to be present to win. To enter the drawing, your cashier will ask you to fill out a raffle ticket (name & phone) when you renew or join, and it will be entered into the drawing box on the spot.

    Thank you for renewing your membership or joining the Co-op for the first time! GEM is the ONLY cooperative, locally owned, full service grocery store in Yellowstone County. GEM offers sustainably grown and organic food and products and its profits are returned to the Billings Community!


  • Summer YUM! | 07.30.2013

    We asked staff and member/owners which produce they’re most looking forward to this summer.  Here are their responses:

     

    The Battle kidsLindsey Battle, with Kimmie & Max IV
    Member/Owners

    “Our family likes to make sweet potato chips. And these little guys love bananas & apples. We also make kale chips and carrot fries in coconut oil. The carrots I fry, the rest I bake.”

     

    Carol Beam

    Carol Beam
    GEM’s Board President

    “My favorite fruit is actually what most people think is a vegetable – the ripe, red tomato. You need to slice it, add a dash of red wine vinegar, a dash of olive oil, a little salt & pepper, and a little basil. Let it sit and, oh my, you have the essence.”

     

    Heather BildenHeather Bilden
    Local Producer Committee Chair

    “Basil. I’m obsessed with the stuff. I like to add it plain to salads, like a green salad or a couscous salad, or even with steamed broccoli. It has so much flavor, it brings everything to life. Or I make pesto. It freezes really well in ice cube trays. Pop them into a freezer bag and they’re handy all winter.”

     

    PamPam Kemmick
    Deli Manager

    “One of our favorite things to do is wash and pluck grapes off the stem and put them in the freezer. Like little mini grape popsicle bites! We eat these all the time in the summer. They’re so delicious!”

     

    MacMac Schaffer
    Member/Owner

    APPLES! The local apples are brilliant here. There’a tree in my backyard just loaded and the funky ones are starting to fall now. You have to watch for bugs if you’re wildcrafting, but that’s still a lot of fun. I prefer local apples, but am eating Galas from New Zealand now. I really like the old-fashioned varieties, too. They used to grow so much here! Our area is great for fruit. I eat ‘em raw. I also like the local berries (lots of antioxidants!) and local Flathead cherries (good for the intestines!).”

     

    Joni SeeleyJoni Seeley
    Member-Owner

    “Apples are always good. I’m looking forward to them. Everybody likes the tomatoes and the watermelons. I like all of the local because it’s picked ripe and has more flavor. I love supporting local and appreciate the early farmer’s market you had this year. With the tomatoes, I just slice them and drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Or put them on a baguette with some feta or mozzarella, and a little basil. I like them cooked, too.”

     

    BenBen Anderson
    Lead Grocery Clerk

    “I’ve been into avocadoes, like guacamole, or cut up with tomatoes as a side dish. It’s cool and refreshing in the summer, and good with a little salt & pepper. It seems like they taste fresher in the summer because they’re in season.”

     

    Perry at his deskPerry McNeese
    General Manager

    “I LOVE BBar Ranch burgers, and the way I fix them is very unique. I put what I like on them, in them. I dice onions, quarter small, fresh mushrooms (don’t chop them any smaller or you won’t taste them), a few chopped jalapenos, cubes of blue or cheddar cheese (you can grate it, but then you won’t get the tasty pockets or cheese). I cook them medium, never well and make them huge – ½ pound hamburger with all the fixings. All ingredients go in raw – my favorite summer food!”

     

    Nolan  with pluotsNolan Fry
    Deli Clerk

    “Those pluots have been so amazing. They’re like candy, but better for you, obviously. I had never had them before I started working here. They’re incredibly juicy – two a day makes you a happy person.”

     

     


  • Board Notes: “The 2020 Challenge” Part 2 | 05.13.2013

    As I noted in the last article, the 2012 Year of the Co-op has come to an end, but in the eyes of the International Co-operative Alliance, 2012 marked the beginning of the “2020 Challenge”.  The “2020 Challenge” is simple:

    • Co-operatives will lead in economic, social and environmental sustainability and
    • Co-ops will be the preferred model for business and
    • Co-ops will be the fastest growing form of enterprise.

    The starting point for this “2020 Challenge” is the powerful claim which co-ops make to the outside world – we have a way of doing business that is better than most.  We give individuals active participation through ownership, making them more engaged in the success of the co-op.  And the co-op business model creates greater economic, social and environmental sustainability.

    There are 5 interlinked themes that will make this decade of the co-op successful:
    1)      Elevate participation within membership and governance to a new level.
    2)      Position co-ops as builders of sustainability.
    3)      Build the co-operative message and secure the co-operative identity.
    4)      Ensure supportive legal frameworks for co-operative growth.
    5)      Secure reliable co-operative capital while guaranteeing member control.

    Elevating Participation
    Democratic member participation is the best know feature of the co-operative way of doing business and a major part of what characterizes a co-operative in contrast to traditional businesses.  The individual member has a role to play in a co-op which goes beyond the basic economic relationship of customer, worker or producer.

    Collectively, members own their co-ops and therefore participate in the governance.  Individually, members have a right to information, they have a right to a voice and they have a right to representation.

    There is good evidence to suggest that providing consumers and workers with a voice inside an organization produces better, more intelligent and responsive forms of business.  The social pioneers who established co-ops over previous centuries had a clear vision – they could see that by getting people to collaborate and work together, they could meet both their individual needs and their collective needs (i.e., access to goods and services).

    But the contemporary consumer world of developed economies is very different than it was when co-ops were founded.  Co-ops started because there was a lack of access to goods and services.  Now there is an over abundance of access to goods and services, making us somewhat complacent and less likely to become “active” participants in much of what we do.  If you are over the age of 50, think about the organizations where you and your parents were active members.  Many of them are gone, and many more are slowing fading into the sunset.

    As a co-op business model, we must continue to rely on active membership to differentiate us from other forms of business.  But let’s face it, the expectations people have (especially younger people) to participation in a membership organization have changed dramatically – looser networked forms of associations are the norm and the division between “member” and “non-member” is less clearly defined.

    A Whole Different Way
    This new reality cannot and must not cause us to abandon our focus on membership.  What we need to do is change the way we think about membership and member engagement.  We need to elevate the participation of membership through totally different channels.  This will mean more than just “liking” us on Facebook.  It will mean developing systems and initiatives that engage members (especially younger members) in comment, conversation, debate and decision making a whole different way.

    I am not sure what the “whole different way” looks like, but I know that GEM has access to resources that are going to help us understand what other co-ops are doing to engage members in a “whole different way”.  The “Challenge 2020” project is already working on finding successful new ways of giving every member a voice – the way they are used to having a voice – so they feel connected and engaged.  Because at the end of the day, the co-op relies on its members to make it successful.  And the only way we will Carol Beamcontinue to grow is by growing our membership – that means engaging members with different interests in different ways than we do today.

    Do you have thoughts on how you would like to have your voice heard?  How do you engage with others today and would you engage with GEM the same way if you could?  I would love to hear from you to better understand how we can better meet your needs as a member to keep you informed, keep you active and keep you engaged.  You can call me at (406) 248-1512, or email.

    Thank you for any thoughts you have on this month’s topic or on the series of topics.  In the next article, we will look at positioning co-ops as builders of sustainability.

    Carol Beam is the President of the Board of Directors


  • Board Notes: The 2020 Challenge | 03.29.2013

    The Year of the Co-op, 2012, has come to an end but in the eyes of the International Co-operative Alliance 2012 marked the beginning of the “2020 Challenge”.  The “2020 Challenge” is simple:

    • Co-operatives will lead in economic, social and environmental sustainability and
    • Co-ops will be the preferred model for business and
    • Co-ops will be the fastest growing form of enterprise.

    The starting point for this “2020 Challenge” is the powerful claim which co-ops make to the outside world – we have a way of doing business that is better than most.  We give individuals active participation through ownership, making them more engaged in the success of the co-op.  And the co-op business model creates greater economic, social and environmental sustainability.

    There are 5 interlinked themes that will make this decade of the co-op successful:
    1)      Elevate participation within membership and governance to a new level.
    2)      Position co-ops as builders of sustainability.
    3)      Build the co-operative message and secure the co-operative identify.
    4)      Ensure supportive legal frameworks for co-operative growth.
    5)      Secure reliable co-operative capital while guaranteeing member control.

    Over the course of the next 5 articles, my column will focus on each of these interlinked themes to help us all understand more about ourselves and begin to elevate our thinking to truly embrace the “2020 Challenge”.  Next article will focus on elevating participation.

    In the meantime, you have many opportunities to elevate your participation in your co-op.  You can attend one or more of the many workshops that are offered each month.   And don’t forget to check out the working member opportunities board (near the restrooms).

    One of the unique things about being a co-op is that we are all much more than just shoppers – we are vested owners.  Perhaps each of us should take our own “2020 Challenge” and decide how we can each be a better co-op member.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

    Carol Beam, Board of Directors President

    Carol Beam is the President of the Board of Directors.  Feedback?  Contact Carol!


  • General Manager’s Comments: The Co-op/Corporate Difference | 07.06.2012

    by Perry McNeese, GEM’s General Manager

    Photo by James Woodcock

    Working with Alicia, GEM’s Marketing Manager, to promote the International Year of the Co-op caused me to stop and think about what it means to be a part of a Cooperative and how it differs for me as a manager.  The difference hit me immediately as I stepped in the General Manager’s position 5 years ago.  I have always believed in strong customer service, but as a Co-op manager I realize that my customer is now the owner!  Yes, the boss, CEO, and share holder all rolled up into one, the shopper!  Therefore fulfilling your needs is not only important, it is a critical part of my performance standing.  If you aren’t happy, I am not doing my job.

    That cuts to what I see as the purpose of a Co-op.  For me, the Co-op’s purpose is to service its owners/members with goods and services that match their reasons for buying into the Co-op in the first place.  Additionally, as this primary objective is met, the management and staff must conduct business in a way that keeps the entity viable and growing in both sales and membership. Thus, our first strategic objective, “Strengthen the Co-op”.  That differs from my conventional corporate experience.  Primary objectives were typically tied to market share, return on investment or share price.  It is much more rewarding to please customers than it is to please Wall Street.

    Our second strategic objective, “Make GEM a Great Place to Work” is also much different from my corporate experience.  As I budget and manage expenses, I am charged with pleasing the employees too?  Oops!  Don’t forget they are all member-owners as well.  So rather than seeing where I can cut labor expense, I am looking at where I can improve rewards and work environment.  As examples, we have added health insurance benefit for full-time employees and employees get 10 to 20 percent discounts.  This is a first for me.  We close major holidays so they can have the day off with their families.  We optimize the use of full-time employees rather than keep them to a minimum.   This job is the very first time I have built wage scales considering the “Living Wage” model and it is rewarding.

    The differences between a Co-op and a corporation continue as one looks at our third objective, “Build the Local Sustainable Foods Economy”.  What!?  I/we have to be concerned about something other than our own growth?  Yep!  We must endeavor to help local producers sell their goods so they too can grow.  By contrast, I used to be trained to see how much I could get from a supplier.  Now I am building relationships and trying to find ways to market more of their produce and meats.  Its fun because my boss, you, also want to have access to more and more local!

    I take pride in another Co-op difference.  This is the first time in my 40 year grocery career that I have worked in an Energy Star facility; our 4th strategic objective is to “Build Environmental Sustainability into the Facility”.  With the improvements that have been made to the building, GEM is now in the 96th percentile for supermarkets around the country.  Ah!  What?  Many of the energy improvements were completed by working members and what a difference it makes.  Yes, our customers, being owners, really do want to see the Co-op succeed and step up to help us in numerous ways from construction to laundry to maintenance projects.  Some members even donate money so we can have a nice patio and, most recently, a new bike rack.

    While I am on strategic objectives, just as well mention the 5th strategic objective, which is to “Increase Community Engagement, Outreach and Education”.  Again, something new to me.  Free workshopsNewsletters that educate rather than sell?  Providing Farmer’s Market space free to producers to sell their goods?

    Seems like everyday I run across a decision that is motivated by what is right verses what is profitable.  Not that being profitable is a bad thing, it just needs to be a means to an end rather than what drives everything.  I have to tell you it makes a guy want to come to work every morning.  I want to thank you for not only reading through my article, but for being the center of what makes GEM a great place in so many ways.  I look forward to continuing to serve you.  The reward is your support!

     


  • Board Notes: What’s your relationship with your co-op? | 05.24.2012

     by Carol Beam, Board President

    Theresa Keaveny and I had the opportunity to attend the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) Western Corridor Training for Boards and Leaders.  The day we spent with our peers from co-ops throughout the west was invigorating.  Our membership is the NCGA co-op not only helps us throughout our operations, but it is a gold mine when it comes to education and training.  Here are some of my take-aways from the day long event:

    NCGA is comprised of 125 co-ops nationwide.  There are 160 stores in 35 states.  To help put it into perspective, NCGA co-ops did $1.5B in sales in 2011 (contrasted to the $10B for Whole Foods).  NCGA’s success has a direct correlation to the success of its member co-ops.  That is one reason why NCGA is spending much of its time and energy these days promoting the growth of the co-op food industry.  Based on data compiled by the NCGA staff, the organic/local food movement is in a growth pattern, especially as it relates to co-ops.   This is one of the key drivers for NCGA’s emphasis on growth in same store sales as well as growth through the addition of new co-ops into NCGA.  Much of what NCGA will focus on going forward will support the growth of food co-ops.

    One fascinating subject covered at this retreat was membership.  All co-ops share the same member characteristics and I will share them with you – describing the least engaged members (customers) on up to the most engaged members (actives). 

    Which on of these best describes your relationship with the co-op?:

    • Customers – people who shop at the co-op but are not members.  Likely to leave the co-op should a competitor offer more convenience, better selection, price, etc.
    • Shopping Members – people who join for the economic benefits.  They do not think of themselves as owners and feel no additional responsibility or loyalty.  They do not perceive a difference between the co-op and a club store.  Primary interest is “what’s in it for me.”
    • Social participants – people who like belonging to the co-op, though they don’t really experience the connection as “ownership”.  They care about what the co-op stands for in the community, but they may not be very clear on what that is.  They read the newsletter, but probably wouldn’t call to comment on an article.  If asked, they will respond to a survey.  They are more likely to attend a co-op dance than the membership meeting.  It is important to provide opportunities for involvement with issues they care about.
    • Member Owners – people who understand that their equity is required to capitalize the co-op.  They think of themselves as owners and they are interested in the governance of the co-op.  They always plan to vote in elections and occasionally they do.  They feel that they should go to the annual meeting, but only rarely do so.
    • Active participants – people who are active in the co-op.  They are the leaders and decision makers who serve or have served on the board or committees.  They pay close attention to what the co-op does and what decisions are made.  They take their ownership responsibility very seriously.  They usually vote in elections and regularly attend co-op functions.

    The goal and challenge for the board and staff of the co-op is to ensure that each person has a high degree of satisfaction with their level of involvement.  The co-op must understand and meet the needs people have at each level before they will be motivated to “move up”.  And as a board and staff, we must always remember that people have the right to select their level of involvement.   We must engage them all.

    Thank you for the opportunity to experience the resources of our membership in NCGA.   It has only served to renew my commitment to the Good Earth Market.