Only You Can Break This Vicious Cycle

by Glenda Bissex

Looking at some partially stocked shelves at the Co-op, I asked a staff member what the problem was. “Not enough people are buying,” I was told. 

As a Co-op shopper, I had to see myself as part of the problem. When my favorite chocolate bars were gone for weeks, I  gave up and stocked up on them elsewhere. And I didn’t look around then to find other things I could buy, like cans of a soup I enjoy, a package of pasta, a bottle of wine—things I might not need right now but that would keep until I needed them.

“If everyone who is reading this newsletter would pledge to spend an additional $10 a week at the Co-op, that would close the gap [debt],” wrote former Store Manager Jezebel Crow in her report in the winter 23-24 newsletter.

Instead, faced with a reduced inventory, it’s easy for shoppers like me to spend less.

   So then the Co-op must buy less.
So I shop there less.
So the Co-op has even less money to purchase products. . . .

It’s a vicious cycle. Where is the end to it? There is only one way to stop the momentum of this ever-contracting spiral. There is only one place it can begin to reverse—with shoppers buying more.

   Then the Co-op can buy more.
Then shoppers will buy more.
And we’ll all feel happier.

You know who you are—shoppers who can afford to pay a little more for some goods in order to pump life blood into our Co-op. Or members who don’t already have a “gift card,” which pre-pays your grocery bill and gives the Co-op additional funds to buy products.  Are we a cooperative in deed as well as in name? We will survive and thrive together or wither and die together.

It isn’t just about money but about spirit. About giving a smile to staff when we’re in the store, and appreciating the efforts they’re making to keep the shelves stocked when suppliers refuse to deliver some products until invoices are paid. It’s about being grateful the Co-op is still here instead of being grumpy that it isn’t everything we want it to be right now. If we can’t find something we want, maybe something we’re used to buying, ask a staff member why and listen to their side of the story—listening is a gift, too. There are many ways of giving. Decide which you can do, and do it!

Back to Contents page – Spring 2024 Issue

Skip to content