The Mystery and Challenges of Department Purchasing or . . . Why We Carry One Damn Thing Instead of Another
by Co-op Staff
An excerpt reprinted from Plainfield Co-op Newsletter: Fall 2012
Members and shoppers often wonder out loud why the Co-op carries one product instead of another. “Why don’t we carry more Cabot products?” or “Why do we carry Cabot products at all?” “Why isn’t everything organic?” or “How can I afford to shop here when everything is organic?” “Why don’t we have bulk nut butters?” As a small co-op which serves as the town’s only grocery store, buying decisions become complex for department heads. It’s hard to please everyone, but we really take a serious shot at it!
Navigating the food system in this day of global markets and grocery chains is no small feat for any of us. Decades ago, when tofu was bean curd and few knew what the heck to do with it, there was little competition from mainstream markets. Now “natural food” is a big market that corporate chains position themselves to profit from. As a small store we don’t have access to the price breaks extended to larger outlets, yet we still struggle to be competitive.
The Co-op’s buying practices are also affected by our mission. The membership charges the staff to support producers in the local and regional economy, serve as a market for healthy food and other goods, foster a sense of community in the village and surrounding area, and encourage awareness of the quality and origins of our food. These are ambitious goals which also affect buying decisions in a variety of ways.
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Full article on pp.8-15 in Newsletter Fall 2012 issue