How long have you been a Co-op Member? I have been a Co-op member-owner since September 2014.
What opportunities have you had to be involved in the Co-op? This spring, I joined the Co-op marketing and membership committee and the outreach and education committee. I also have performed at the Fall Open House and represented the Co-op at the SUNY Canton Health Fair. On the marketing committee, I have worked with other committee members to create a new member brochure and to revamp the business partners program. On the outreach committee, I have also joined an ad hoc newsletter committee that edits the articles before they go to our newsletter designer - this process seems to have decreased the turnaround time for the newsletter significantly, and we believe this process will improve with each iteration.
Why have you chosen to run for a seat on the Board of Directors? I am a strong believer in supporting our community, especially in such a small town. I grew up in an area that was very commercialized, and there wasn’t even a co-op or farms nearby. Coming to Potsdam, I see the important role that the Co-op plays in the local community, and I want to be able to aid that in any way possible. I believe being part of the Board of Directors would allow me the opportunity to make a positive impact in not just the Co-op, but the Potsdam and North Country community.
What interests, skill, and talents will you bring to the Board of Directors? I have a business and math background, so I can understand financial statements and revenue graphs and all that, but my true passion is marketing and events. While I can certainly use those skills in the committees I have joined, I feel like being a part of the board and offering my ideas for how to reach new customers and member-owners and how to satisfy our current member-owners can be beneficial to many discussions on the board. Considering the views of the member-owner base as a whole is crucial to every single discussion on the board.
What do you appreciate most about the Co-op? What do you think is working well? I appreciate that the Co-op plays a vital role in our community and creates its own community as well. The Co-op is made up of a diverse set of individuals who are connected through a common goal: to promote a healthy, conscientious lifestyle. I think that “conscientious” is the operative term here as Co-op members are not just mindful of the food they choose to eat, they also think about the greater good and how their participation in the Co-op benefits the economic, social and cultural needs of the member-owner base and the community as a whole. I believe that that kind of prudence should be fostered across the globe, but it has to start in local communities.
What do you think is missing, or isn't working, at the Co-op? I think the Co-op is struggling to bring in new member-owners. It is fantastic that anyone in the community can shop at the Co-op, but it is crucial to investigate the reasons why people do not become member-owners. I know a number of people who are even leaders in the community who shop at the Co-op regularly but do not join. I think our marketing efforts are a great start, but we must start a strong effort across the whole board.
What is your future vision for the Co-op? I think it is not unreasonable to set a steady membership goal of 1,500 member-owners. Currently, we are relatively constant around 1,000. An increase in community events and involvement at external events will help this. Also, we can research reasons why people do not join and make a more concerted effort in-store to sign people up. I understand there is a relatively constant debate about changing the dues and shares setup, but updating that system may also help. Some of the individuals who might be apt to join are university professors and their families, area newcomers, younger individuals and students. Enlisting enthusiastic students might be a great way to reach out to some of those groups. **New idea** I know some campus groups also do fundraisers like bake sales and commercial cookie dough or other baked goods sales - we might be able to implement a fundraising program that allows groups to sell our products instead.