We’re sponsoring a movie!

Astoria Parks Foundation Parks After Dark

Join the Astoria Parks Foundation and sponsor Astoria Co-op for the kick-off of the Parks After Dark summer movie series to raise money for Astoria Parks and Recreation Scholarships.

Saturday, June 24th we will be showing the 80’s classic Top Gun.  Movie will begin at dusk at McClure Park, located at 8th and Grand Avenue. Food and beverages (including Co-op salad) available for purchase.

Community Response

We’re getting such a positive response following our big announcement! Securing a location for the new store was a big step. Since then we’ve met with Co-op owners and the people who live near our future site.

On June 8 we hosted a Co-op Conversation at Shively Hall. Co-op General Manager Matt Stanley, along with several members of our Board of Directors, shared information, answered questions, and heard suggestions.

The meeting started off with background on the project. The Co-op’s Board adopted a strategic plan three years ago which includes an expanded store. Through the planning process the Board solicited feedback and heard loud and clear the community’s desire for a bigger store offering more of what our shoppers love. Further research including a market study and consulting with our co-op grocery peers confirmed this concept viable.

The Board set criteria for a new store site. The essential elements included a space in Astoria large enough for an approximate 10,000 square foot store with plenty of space for parking and ease of access. Desires included river views, adjacent to the Riverwalk, pedestrian access, close to Columbia Memorial Hospital, and space to customize a store from the ground up.

Then came two years of searching for a site which included talking to property owners, and thoroughly investigating everything in Astoria that met our criteria. The board narrowed locations down to a handful and visited each place to get a feel for them. Finally, the Co-op signed a lease which includes construction of a new store at 23rd and Marine Drive in the Millpond development at the end of May.

Several questions and ideas came up at our Shively meeting such as who will be responsible for building the store, how big it will be, whether housing could be added above, traffic concerns, and the desire for owners to be involved. The property owner will construct an approximate 11,000 square foot building and will be conducting a traffic study with Oregon Department of Transportation to address any necessary mitigation. Housing is not being considered as there is no interest from the developer due to costs and height limitation in the area. Co-op owners can get involved by staying informed, showing support during the city land use approvals process, and helping with our capital campaign.

On June 17 we met some of our new neighbors at the Millpond homeowner’s annual meeting.

Many residents said they felt really positive about our proposal. Questions and concerns related to aesthetics, landscaping, and delivery-truck times.

Millpond was a former plywood mill that underwent transformation from polluted site to a clean, model community with senior housing, low income housing, townhouses, and single family homes. We believe the commercial property where we will build the new store will fulfill the original intent of this mixed used development and be a tremendous asset to the neighborhood and our entire coastal community.

At this time there are so many variables with planning the store and financing that we can’t say when the new store would open. It is safe to say though that we are working diligently toward this goal every day. Co-op staff members are extremely excited about the additional space, more efficient layout, and break room. It will make it that much easier to serve you even better with more healthy fresh food, local products, and plenty of space to shop, park and dine. Thanks so much to everyone in the community who has asked good questions and weighed-in with positivity. Feel free to get in touch if you have any more questions, concerns and/or ideas.

General Manager Matt Stanley can be reached at (503) 325-0027 or matt@astoria.coop.

Co-op Conversation

You’re invited to a Co-op Conversation with our general Manager Matt Stanley following our big announcement about the location of our future new store at Shively Hall on June 8 at 7 p.m.

“We’re excited to hear from you and answer any questions you might have about the project,” Stanley said.

Stanley says he will not have more specifics than what has already been shared, but for those with ideas or questions, this will be an opportunity to talk. The Co-op has received an outpouring of positive responses since we were able to share news of signing the lease.

It would be great to see you at this meeting, but if you’re not able to attend, please don’t hesitate to contact Matt or find him in the store during your next Co-op shop. Together we grow!

Matt’s contact information: matt@astoria.coop, (503)325-0027

Larger Store Here We Come: New Co-op Location Selected

By Matt Stanley, General Manager

We heard loud and clear that our community wants more space to shop and more parking. So we want you to be the first to know… it is official! Astoria Co-op Grocery has signed a long term lease which includes construction of a new grocery store at Millpond, located at 23rd Street and Marine Drive in Astoria. The plan is to build a larger version of the current store you love, with more fresh produce, meat, cheese, and deli, more parking (50 spaces), and a dedicated indoor/outdoor eating area. Our new space will include approximately 7,500 square feet of retail space (compared to our current 2,100 sq. ft.).

We aim to welcome lots of new shoppers and owners in this new location so that the Co-op can increase its positive impact on our community. Think: more sales of local products, more money to local farmers, more good jobs, and growing the cooperative economy in our region. Envision more of your friends and neighbors joining the Co-op and benefiting from our increase in selection and services. Go Co-op!

Following a strategic planning process which included an outpouring of support  for a new store, the Board and I did some serious due diligence (more than three years of searching) to find a site that would allow us to meet the community’s needs and the logistics needed for a retail grocery site. This wasn’t an easy quest, but our market research confirms that this new location will allow us to offer this increase in selection and services and maintain our financial health long into the future.

This is the former site of the Astoria Plywood Mill (a worker-owned co-op) which closed decades ago and was redeveloped into mixed income housing with a vacant commercial site where we plan to build the store. It is near the Columbia River, Riverwalk, Columbia Memorial Hospital and Astoria Aquatic Center. It is highly visible and easily accessible, with plenty of room for parking.

There will be a long road ahead with land use approvals and financing, and we’re going to need your support. We look forward to keeping our owners and shoppers in the loop as the project progresses and there will be opportunities for you to provide feedback and get involved. Stay tuned for draft drawings of what the new store will look like and the launching of a capital campaign likely in the fall. Please check out our web page for updates on expansion and don’t hesitate to contact me or find me in the store during your next Co-op shop. Together we grow!

Matt’s contact information: matt@astoria.coop, (503)325-0027

You’re invited to a Co-op Conversation with Matt following our big announcement. Bring your questions and concerns to Shively Hall in Astoria June 8 at 7:00 p.m.

Early Summertime Savings

The May-June edition of the Co+op Deals coupon book is full of savings on products that will help you enjoy summer to its fullest! Stop by the co-op to pick up your copy today, and save big on brands like Annie’s Homegrown, Clif Bar, Vita Coco and Blue Diamond. In this coupon book, you’ll find great deals on favorite brands to help you beat the heat with a cool treat, fuel up after some fun in the sun or prepare lunches for a family picnic.

Look for coupon books beginning in May. Coupons are valid through June 30, 2017.

Earth Day Every Day

Doing our part for a healthy planet is part of the way we do things every day at the Co-op. We buy organic food that isn’t grown with synthetic chemicals and local food that doesn’t have to travel far. As we grow we’re thinking of new ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Here are some of the actions we’re taking now:

Beans for Bags: Our reusable bag incentive program (started May 2015) has measured nearly 50,000 times in which shoppers have used a reusable tote. We donate the money we would have spent on paper bags to local non-profits.

• Food Waste: Nothing goes in the dumpster! We donate anything that’s still edible to the Clatsop Community Action Regional Food Bank. In a year we’ve donated more than 26,000 pounds of fresh food. Produce and deli scraps go to local farmers for compost or animal feed. Benefits include feeding hungry families and reducing waste from landfills prevents production of greenhouse gasses.

• Lighting: We switched to all LED lights. They’re up to 80% more efficient, putting less demand on power plants and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Click here to see what our friends at some other Co-ops around the country are doing to make earth day every day too!

In the Bulk Section

More and more shoppers are being enticed into the bulk aisles of their food stores—and for good reason! Buying in bulk is great for your budget (buy just the amount you need, at the best prices) and the environment, since there’s less packaging required. With the opportunity to see and smell a product outside the package before you buy, it’s a fun way to shop too.

Start by stocking up on staples: the bulk section is full of great buys for your pantry, like beans, nuts, cereals, flours, and grains. You can take advantage of the bulk section to sample small amounts of nut butters (many stores even offer the option to grind your own), pastas, and teas and coffees before committing to a large quantity.

Whatever your recipe, herbs and spices can be bought in just the amount you need for a fraction of the price of whole jars. It makes it easy and cheap to explore new cuisines that call for small amounts of herbs and spices you don’t stock in your pantry. Also look for pet food and household and toiletry items, such as laundry detergent and soaps.

Besides being more cost-effective, buying bulk allows you to experiment with new foods. Bring home just enough quinoa for one meal, for example, or enough currants to substitute for raisins in your oatmeal one morning, and then come back for more when you know it’s a winner. No section of your co-op is more fun to browse!

If you’re new to bulk buying, don’t be shy; co-op staff will be happy to help you get started with weighing and marking your items.

What are your favorite bulk buys? Join the conversation with other shoppers by commenting below, and get more tips and advice for making the best choices in the aisles of your co-op.

BOGO Kombucha

We love Humm Kombucha for several reasons. For starters it’s made in Oregon, in the beautiful city of Bend. It is organic, GMO-free, and gluten free. Have we mentioned it’s delicious? That’s not the best part though. The best part is, it’s ALIVE! That means this refreshing drink is full of live cultures, beneficial bacteria and B vitamins.

So how could this get any better, right?! What if we gave it to you for FREE? You might think this is too good to be true! But seriously, hurry on down to your local Co-op the weekend of April 8-9 for our BOGO kombucha flash sale. Buy one Humm Kombucha (lemon-ginger or coconut-lime) and get one free until we run out.

Why GROW Bananas?

Our organic bananas are worth going “bananas” over because they’re not only super high quality but each purchase goes toward helping farm workers. So when you buy bananas from the Co-op and see the “GROW” sticker, here’s what it’s all about:

GROW Overview

  • GROW was founded in 2005 by Organics Unlimited in support of its mission: “our responsibility to care for our workers and the communities where we grow our high-quality, organic fruit”.
  • A percentage from the purchase of each box of GROW organic bananas is earmarked for the GROW fund.
  • Since its founding, GROW has raised over $2 million in aid for communities in Mexico and Ecuador through retailer and distributor support.
  • The mission of GROW is to create a better quality of life for not only the farm workers, but entire communities.
  • GROW funds provide educational, dental and vision support, clean drinking water, milk for growing children and other necessities to those who need it the most.
  • GROW is also dedicated to environmental stewardship and promotes farming using organic, sustainable methods, not only for the health of our environment, but for the health of workers and consumers.

Preparing for Success

By Matt Stanley/ General Manager

We’ve been talking about expansion a lot over the last couple years. We received an overwhelmingly positive response from a shopper survey about expansion, created a Strategic Plan built around the idea that we’d expand and increase our impact in the community, and worked with the Board of Directors to design site-selection criteria that met our needs. Since then we’ve been looking for the ideal piece of real estate. The next big step in our progress towards expansion is signing a lease for a location that aligns with the Board-created site selection criteria.

Real estate negotiations don’t make the best news. We want to present our plan to the ownership when they are firm and in our best interests. In the meantime, I thought I’d use this opportunity to share some of the preparedness work we have accomplished or are currently working on. The goal of all this work is to give our new expanded store the best chance of success – and it has enhanced our current operation too!

Organizational Capacity

Last year we looked at an analysis of our current organizational structure and planned for how it will evolve as we continue to grow and eventually open our new store. Our staff size is expected to grow considerably right out of the gate. Think 60-65 staff members compared to our current staff of 25. We now have a clear path toward what our organizational chart will look like, how roles will change, and where new positions will be needed. This provides staff awareness for those interested in further developing their skills and interests as the Co-op grows. We’ve already implemented a new position, Front End Manager, who oversees the cashiers. We hope you experience continued enhancements in customer service when you check out your groceries.

HR Work

We’ve nearly completed a redrafting of our staff manual complete with legal review. It will prepare us to manage and apply our policies fairly to a larger staff. It will also serve as an improved tool for staff to use in order to understand the relationship between themselves and their employer. The plan for the new store calls for a part time HR person. We know this will improve the workplace because it will provide staff with a regular and accessible expert on the co-op’s benefits, policies, and the handling of sensitive situations in way that aligns with our cooperative values.

Financial Management

Last year we voluntarily underwent a financial audit of fiscal years 2014-2015. We had no material weaknesses – meaning from the auditor’s perspective there is no reason to believe that there has been any misstatement of the Co-op’s financial accounting. We are currently completing an audit of 2016. Producing audited statements will give validity to the financial performance of the Co-op as we seek financing for our upcoming project. It also offers us parameters for improving internal controls and ensuring that the Co-op is following Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for grocery retailers.

Staff Development

We have focused and will continue to focus on developing the leadership capacity of our management team. This includes trainings, weekly review and practice of leadership tools and educational material, and more. We regular read leadership themed books as a team and meet for discussion. Our latest read was a book called The Good Jobs Strategy. The book that demonstrates that companies that view their workforce as an asset to be maximized rather than a cost to be minimized have both happier workers and better business results. Of course, at the Co-op we want happy engaged workers because that translates to better service to our owners and shoppers. Better service means more folks support our Co-op and our impact on the community grows.

Competition

We got experience dealing with increased competition after Fred Meyer completed its remodel in 2014.  We planned and minimized the impact from the increase in their offering of natural foods. We added fresh meat to the store, expanded our deli offering, and improved our prices. Now we have our eyes set on how a Walmart may impact the co-op. The Management Team will be preparing a plan for how we’ll maintain our momentum after Walmart opens early next year. Preparing for competition or shifts in the market for natural foods is a skill we’ll want even after we open our new location. We know that our willingness and ability to support local producers sets us apart from stores like Wal-Mart and our capacity to sell more local products will only increase in our new store.

A Strong Investment

All this work in combination with the nitty-gritty details of the expansion project (signing a lease) which we hope to soon share means that when it comes time to invest in the Co-op’s preferred shares, you’ll know we’ve done our homework, planned meticulously, and thereby minimized risk to our owner-investors and shoppers who depend on our store for their diets. It doesn’t hurt that it improves the co-op experience now too! We look forward to sharing more of our plans soon!