GM Update, May Newsletter

Hello fellow Co-operators!

First, I want to thank all of the owners who came to the Financial Meeting of Owners. Your dedication and concern about the Co-op is heartening and very welcome! I look forward to seeing all of you at our next meeting! In this month's newsletter I am going to re-cap the goals and highlights that I talked about for all of those who could not attend. This is not a complete list but should give everyone a good idea of the exciting things we have in store for you!

I talked about building on our first quarter success. We made a nice profit on slightly lower sales in our first quarter and I would like to thank all who were a part of that including our current staff and Tim Sullivan for "getting it done". Last year we lost money in the first quarter and this year our preliminary numbers came back very nicely in comparison! When those numbers are final I will make sure everyone knows! Going forward, increasing sales is our number one focus and we have plans to make a few changes to help out our cause. There is room to get better with display merchandising to better showcase the products we carry. We want to get louder about educating our owners and shoppers about our co-op made products. Many of you may have seen our recent Facebook post about our amazing kitchen staff and the fact that we have had no turnover in this department in 2 years! Please believe me when I say that this is extremely rare these days and their dedication is something we are all proud of at the co-op!  Our kitchen staff is hard at work every day producing, from scratch, all of the fresh items you love to buy and we use locally sourced products to do so. Very few other grocery stores can make this claim. Speaking of local, we carry more local items from more local vendors than any other store in town. We truly are the place to shop if you want to support local businesses! We recently kicked off our new catering menu. If you have an event coming up, please make the co-op your first stop to plan the food for it. We also started carrying sushi that is made fresh every day and provided for us by a local chef. In our first month carrying it we added over $25,000 in sales for the store! Thank you to all who have been requesting this product. We listened and are having great success with it! Coming soon, we hope to have kombucha on tap. We have had several requests for this product and are currently researching our options to provide it for you. Also, we will soon begin testing our own co-op made frozen pizza. Imagine being able to walk in and grab the best tasting pizza in town to bake for your family at home! Finally, we greatly desire to bring back a product that everyone loved. In the months to come we will be testing the viability of restarting, in a limited capacity, the Co-op bread program. To be totally transparent, this program was discontinued because we were losing money on it. It is very difficult to maintain a profitable fresh, made from scratch, bread program, but we are going to try! Please be aware it is unlikely we will be able to carry the full line of breads we carried in the past but we will do our best!

The last part of my presentation was about the mayor's request for input on the revitalization of downtown Urbana. We have put together a group of concerned staff who have already had one meeting with the mayor and would like to encourage all who have ideas to make their voice heard. Please go to https://www.urbanaillinois.us/urbanasquare to participate.

I have had some owners and customers ask about the best way they can help the co-op. The biggest help anyone give is to simply be an advocate for Common Ground. If you have had a great experience, love the food, love our staff or just love the ability to shop for local products, please make it a point to tell your friends about us! Word of mouth is the best advertisement we can ask for! Help us by being loud and proud about where you love to shop! Thank you all!!

Finally I'd like to introduce Mia Hanneken, who writes this month about our Food For All program. Mia is our Education Coordinator and works alongside Sarah Buckman and Sam Ihm on the Marketing team.

In Co-operation,

Gary