Everything you need to know to Vote!
Meet your 2017 Candidates!
Our member owned community grocery is a cool place. We have a great future, but it is in our hands. There is much that could cause our co-op to go off track. The market for natural foods is strong, but we face tough competition. We have sustained losses while we work to turn things around. Co-ops around the country also struggle with competition, yet others thrive. It is up to us to make sure we thrive.
I have served on the current Board of Directors since mid-2015. I previously served on our very first Board, from 1980 to 1982. I was Treasurer then President of the Board. Since 1983, I have owned a local home remodeling business. I also have worked with other community groups. I bring my business knowledge and community experience to the Board to make things better.
We face challenges-
1. We are hiring a new General Manager and have been operating with an interim GM since December. It is crucial that we find a dynamic person to lead us.
2. We operate in a very competitive natural foods grocery environment.
3. Our staff members unionized this past fall, and we are in union negotiations now.
4. We need to vastly improve our communications with our member-owners and shoppers. We don’t keep them up-to-date.
5. We need to find new ways for member-owners to engage.
6. We need to continue to develop our financial systems and our collective financial knowledge.
7. We have tremendous staff members- including Lori, our interim GM. We need to continue to develop and utilize their knowledge and talents.
8. Many people around Ann Arbor still don’t know about our co-op, and choose to shop elsewhere.
9. We need to develop our vision, creating long term plans that lead us to the future.
To that end, I want to continue the work we are doing on our Board. This past year I have been serving as Treasurer, chairing the finance committee. We have standardized our financial reporting and improved our financial knowledge. I also serve on the General Manager search committee, to help us find the right person to lead our co-op. Once we have the new GM in place, I want to work closely with the Board and the GM to make sure we are progressing and meeting our goals.
To all of our staff and member-owners- I really appreciate the part you play in making our co-op so unique. We play a vital role in our community. We provide a convenient place to get good food, much of it organic and locally sourced. People make connections, we build networks of friends, we get learning opportunities, and we even get to hear good music. The co-op is really a rock for so many of us. We need to keep to that way. For my part, it has been an honor to serve on the Board, and I hope to continue to work to make it better. Please vote. Thank you.
This past December workers at PFC voted to unionize. I am delighted that PFC has become a union shop. Worker representation is an essential element of a more democratic economy. As the co-op develops a relationship with the union I believe that there is great potential for the empowerment of the PFC staff and at the same time the strengthening of the co-op. I am proud of the fact that PFC is the only unionized natural food store in Ann Arbor.
The co-op is now in the process of hiring a new general manager. This task is the most important responsibility of the board. As a long-standing board member I was on the board at the time of our last general manager hiring and I bring insights from that experience to the current process. In hiring a new general manager, we will consider several important issues that the co-op faces. Who we choose and how we facilitate their orientation to the co-op will have a significant influence on the direction of the co-op.
Perhaps you’ve heard that PFC has had financial challenges the last few years. This is because of an explosion of natural food options and reflects national trends. I believe that addressing these challenges requires articulating the advantage that PFC brings as a cooperative, engaging our members, and striving for excellence and innovation.
I bring experience of seven years of service on the PFC Board, including a deep understanding co-op governance. I am committed to team building, and I have consensus building skills. But the greatest asset that I bring to the board is my knowledge of and commitment to cooperative principles.
One important factor necessary for the co-ops success is long-term planning, including a willingness to embrace creative and innovative strategies. While the board does not directly engage in the running of the store we need to establish a long-term plan and work with our new general manager to identify our strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
PFC can move forward by identifying ways of strengthening the PFC community. One of the policy ends set by the board reads as follows:
Collective Action – Members are able to use PFC to collectively support activities and organizations that are working to increase the health of the community and the environment.
I interpret this as more than donating to community groups. We have space to offer, in the store but also in spaces we sponsor outside of the store, we have the potential to provide space in printed materials, and online, we are a community with over 8000 member owners. Supporting the mobilization of our membership towards activities that increase community and environmental health is beneficial in its own right, but I believe that when the co-op can demonstrate its contribution to community and environment the co-op’s financial health will benefit from members understanding our contributions and commitments.
My name is Jeremy Lapham, my key interest in running for the board is to increase the public awareness of People’s Food Co-op to get more customers through the door. The PFC must adapt in order to ensure its long-term financial and social viability in an increasingly crowded downtown market. In recent year’s the PFC’s has faced a number of challenges including stagnant growth in sales, declining member/owner ship, and negative perceptions (i.e., expensive and crowded). As a board-member I bring a diverse set of experiences including having been a former co-op employee (1999-2001), a current member owner, a downtown resident for 18 years, and a management and organizational researcher at the UM. I am particularly interested in exploring how the PFC can better utilize feedback from members, employees and the community in conjunction with evidence-based cooperative business approaches with the goal of increasing membership and improving sales.
In recent years it has become apparent that many non-member shoppers and community members are not familiar with the benefits of the cooperative business model. Further, the PFC is perceived as an inconvenient shopping location due to factors such as busy downtown location & lack of parking. As well the PFC is perceived to have a limited selection coupled with premium prices. When in fact the PFC has comparable prices and a better product selection than most downtown competitors. The challenge of the PFC is to remain a relevant and appealing downtown shopping destination in the context of a rapidly changing demographic. While maintaining the mission, vision, values, of a community-based cooperative business.
As a board member I will work collaboratively with fellow board members to explore and consider policies that will allow movement in the following key areas:
• Reinforce the PFC’s unique identity as a cooperative socially responsible grocery ensuring customer and employee feedback and active engagement with the local community.
• Engage new customer segments while improving service for loyal customers.
• Recruit new members and customers via emphasis on the benefit of the Co-op model, and the PFC’s extensive product selection and competitive prices.
• Explore online store offerings coupled with grocery and/or meal delivery service to further increase awareness of the PFC. Delivery service via bicycle could be a promising option for the Ann Arbor area.
• Encourage attractive food and beverage options including Michigan wine and beer tasting and casual dinner options
• Support implementation of evidence-based store layout and design such as: 1. reorientation of store/products to support foot traffic in bulk foods and health and beauty products—both of which offer the highest returns for the PFC; 2. increase the seating capacity in Cafe Verde while minimizing the gap between cafe and food sections.
Why are you interested in serving on the PFC Board?
Having experienced a convergence of personal and professional interests in social and economic justice, entrepreneurship, food and nutrition, and having been a happy but passive member of PFC since 2003, I recognize the time has come to connect the dots, step up and help the PFC stay strong and move ahead.
What knowledge, skills, experience, and energy would you bring to the Board?
Community advocacy in housing, consumer and education matters since 1990. Non judicial dispute resolution since 2000. Law practice, including Michigan legal aid representation and statewide Access to Justice work, since 1997. Economic development activities in Washtenaw County since 2006.Private client engagements, both paid and pro bono, involving business formation, not for profit formation and governance, food and beverage production, restaurant business matters and culinary arts. Board participation in public and private educational enterprises. Multi generational family tradition of public service and social justice advocacy. Investment in the community as parent of an Ann Arbor public school student and UM undergraduate, also UM faculty spouse and local business owner.
What do you see as PFC’s role in the broader community?
Providing quality, healthful goods. Informing consumers regarding the impact of food choices as well as that of processing, packaging, transportation and storage methods. Demonstrating the power and potential of a business model that combines sound, time tested merchandising practices with responsible local citizenship and global social conscience. Supporting producers who work outside of agribusiness-as-usual. Creating opportunities for community members to participate in labor, governance and management.
What do you believe PFC’s priorities should be in the coming years and why?
Engagement with a broader community outside of the existing core of affluent and/or educated individuals, because the values, material benefits and participatory opportunities represented by PFC should not be contained within a group of ‘usual suspects’ and because growth of the PFC may be a matter of survival. Creation of additional learning and work opportunities for young people, because they need alternatives to the increasingly limited and demoralizing roles available to them through the traditional job market. Enhancement of the overall sense of connection, comradeship and mutual purpose throughout our community,
because these qualities are always important and are now more important than ever.
It’s Election Season!
Let your voice be heard! VOTE! With the continuation of online voting, it is so easy to participate. Vote at home, vote in the store, request a paper ballot: just vote! This is an important opportunity be an active member of OUR member-owned store. This opportunity for participation is what sets PFC apart from other stores in the community. The board members steer the direction of the store by creating the policies that the PFC general manager and staff follow. As board members we represent YOU! So take the time to learn about the candidates and vote!
Voting online is easy!
- Go to pfc.simplyvoting.com
- Enter your member number and last name to access the ballot. Your name and number must match that in our records.
- Choose no more than two candidates.
- Hit continue to submit your ballot.
All voting will begin Thursday, March 30 and end Wednesday, April 19 at 10pm sharp!
If you have any questions, contact us at (734)994-4589 or email@example.com.
If you are interested in getting more involved at the Co-op, serving on any one of several board committees is a great option! We are always looking for members to lend their time and energy to help make PFC a better co-op. To find out more information about which committees exist and what efforts are needed at this time, contact our vice president or attend this month’s board meeting. We’d love to have you join us!