Your co-op
Sound Consumer | February 2005


Talk to the Board

These in-store visits offer unique opportunity for the board and members to have a dialogue about the current and future course of the co-op. Upcoming Talk to the Board dates:

  • Saturday, February 26, 1 to 3 p.m. Issaquah PCC
  • Saturday, March 12, 12 to 2 p.m. Kirkland PCC

Next board meeting

The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be Tuesday, March 29 at 5 p.m. at the co-op office. Time is set aside as usual for member comments at 7 p.m.


Members share their thoughts on PCC benefits

In the November Sound Consumer, PCC’s Board of Trustees asked for input on member benefits.

We’re always interested in members’ thoughts about benefits, but we were particularly eager to hear your thoughts as we prepared for a January retreat on the topic. We would like to thank all the members who responded. More than 100 of you gave us more than 300 (and counting) comments, and we read them all — from the two-word answers to the member who gave us 2,600+ words! Along with the notes from our October membership meeting, these comments were helpful in framing our discussions.

We’ll report on the retreat in next month’s Sound Consumer, but we thought it would be interesting to share some excerpts from the member input with you. More responses can be viewed on our Web site after February 2. To maintain our members’ privacy, no respondents’ names are given. Following are the questions posed and a sampling of answers:

How is your membership “paying off?” What are the most valuable elements to you?

FIRST, PLEASE PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACKS: I think PCC does a tremendous job of making me feel part of a community I can be proud of. You consistently exceed my expectations when it comes to membership benefits: the quality of the food you sell, the information you provide in the Sound Consumer, the kind and efficient service I get at the stores, the cleanliness of the stores, and the effort you make to keep it affordable are all very obviously something that the whole organization takes very seriously. It shows. Thank you.

I JUST WANTED TO COMMENT that your 10 percent off anytime coupon is wonderful. I have used it for the past few months and really appreciate the chance to have a more flexible time to save money ... Thank you and I hope you can continue to provide it to members in the newsletter, which I always enjoy reading!

ALTHOUGH I HAVE TAKEN ADVANTAGE of the discounts and would continue to do so if they are continued, I would prefer that the benefits are directed more toward the community rather than individual members. Some combination of the two seems best. Maybe just one monthly discount day for members; hopefully a day of their choice, and not just one or two days/month.

LATELY IT SEEMS AS IF MY PCC MEMBERSHIP is becoming less valuable to me with the discontinuance of Community (Connections) discounts and the addition of other markets besides PCC that carry whole foods and organic produce.

I THINK THE BONUS DAYS ARE A GREAT BENEFIT, an important marketing tool, and are part of a necessary strategy to continue to attract and retain new members and therefore ensure the longevity of this important co-op. Personally, however, I think focusing on such benefits reflects mixed-up priorities and a failure to recognize what sets PCC apart from other chain grocers in the community - ones that do not consider ethical business practices except where required by law.

PCC IS AN ENVIRONMENT where I can feel comfortable shopping. I see healthy and fit people around me and am encouraged to make wise choices.

I AM A SINGLE MOM, work full time, have three children and am always on the run. The choose-your-discount-day is a dream come true.

I AM MADE AWARE of local political food/health issues through the Sound Consumer or through store displays; also, there are opportunities to sign petitions or send cards or e-mails in order to try and change the status quo. It is a very important part of my membership for me. I find value in Goldie Caughlan's monthly article, "Insights," which has so much good information.

HAVING DISCOUNT DAYS is extremely useful for those of us who don't make significant salaries.

YOUR KNOWLEDGEABLE CLERKS are a big benefit. I've gotten a lot of help there! They are PCC.

PCC IS AN IMPORTANT PART of our healthful living plan. The membership discount and the extra 10 percent-off day makes it possible for us to afford the kind of organic eating that we feel keeps us reasonably healthy. It is cheaper to purchase staples and fresh items at PCC in Seattle, even with the ferry fare, than to buy organic here on the Island.

What other ways can PCC enhance your membership benefits?

WHENEVER POSSIBLE, I WANT MY PURCHASES to reflect my values as a consumer, therefore I want information about suppliers/vendors available in the store and in the Sound Consumer as much as possible.

MAKING THE 10 PERCENT DISCOUNT AVAILABLE once a month, but on whatever day I choose, is what I've been asking for all along! Yeah! If the finances are too tight, or it doesn't make it through the trial months, please keep the more recent discount and eliminate the "must shop on the 15/16th" discount.

I'D LIKE TO SEE MORE EDUCATION SEMINARS either in-store or at community locations, as long as the presenters aren't plugging their products or services.

IT WOULD BE COOL IF LONGTIME MEMBERS or lifetime members were given a gift after five years or something: maybe a cloth shopping bag, so when they use it, the tellers know they are longtime members and can just say, "Hey, great bag! Thanks for being a member for so long!"

MANY OF YOUR EMPLOYEES have skill, knowledge or interests that I would like to tap into. For example, if you have an employee who knows a lot about vitamins, produce, etc., post their name, hours and a paragraph on their interests on a bulletin board in the store. It would be fun to find out who they are, get them to share their amateur knowledge and start a dialogue with them visit after visit.

I SIMPLY CAN'T AFFORD to buy all organic produce. There should be more, cheaper, non-organic options, like there used to be. Bring back the every day member discount (non-member markup).

PROVIDE CLASSES AT KIRKLAND PCC.

How can we better communicate membership benefits to you?

PERHAPS A BI-YEARLY COLUMN in the Sound Consumer that lists new benefits or discontinued benefits.

MORE INFORMATION IS NEEDED in the stores. Membership information and benefits aren't located/listed in a clear and visible place.

I FRANKLY DON'T THINK ABOUT my benefits much, so an annual summary of benefits in the monthly newsletter and perhaps a history of how benefits have changed would be a useful reminder. But be sure to include all the benefits of membership - e.g. how membership supports local organic producers, etc. and how that "pays" back to our community.

THE MONTHLY SOUND CONSUMER is a welcome piece of mail, however, I would be just as happy with an electronic Web-based issue and e-mail reminder that it's available online.

As a member/owner of PCC, how do you think we can generate new members?

A FREE DAY TRIP TO AN ORGANIC FARM to learn how things are grown, or some other hands-on experience for members provided they bring along a non-member. Or a free cooking class with organic ingredients when you bring a non-member.

DO WE REALLY HAVE TO?

BETTER MEMBER BENEFITS. If I hadn't become a member years ago, I probably wouldn't do it. It doesn't seem like the benefits are all that great.

PERHAPS ENCOURAGE PEOPLE to give the gift of membership to someone who can't afford to join. Maybe offer it at a discounted price, if possible, if presented as a gift. I hope the flyer in the newspaper helps. That seems like a good idea.

BUILD VISIBILITY FOR YOUR STORES and the benefits of shopping at those stores among the membership of like-minded organizations (conservation groups, neighborhood councils, etc.).

I PROBABLY COULD COME UP with a variety of ideas here. How important is it to generate new members vs. simply getting the community to shop and provide revenue to PCC? I'd rather focus PCC's energy on being a healthy, sustainable business vs. getting new members, unless those membership fees are critical to attaining that goal.

HOW ABOUT A NEW AND LARGER STORE in the Seward Park area?

ALTHOUGH I MISS THE OLD CO-OP "LOOK" - the crowded original Greenlake store and the "funky" Fremont store - I understand and support the move to larger, brighter stores.

HAVE MORE CONSUMER-MEET-PRODUCER and food info/education half-day events at the various co-op locations.

MARKETING ALL THE REASONS TO SHOP THERE - discount days, supporting sustainable agriculture, building community, eating foods free of pesticides, selling meats that are mercifully raised and free from hormones. Many consumers don't know that the food they eat from larger grocery corporations is less healthy or harmful because of their support of macro-agriculture.

IT SEEMS LIKE WHEN I GO TO THE PCC that it costs a lot. And the impression folks have generally is that PCC is expensive. However, I notice that most of my PCC costs are actually edible and go into quality. I need to know that that's what I'm buying -- quality that is going to deliver taste and keep me healthy (while still ensuring ecological balance.)

Thanks to those who shared their views on PCC member benefits. We'll continue to reach out for member feedback in Sound Consumer and on our Web site. You don't have to wait to be asked. Your feedback is always welcome on this or any PCC-related topic. E-mail us at or join us at a board meeting or one of the monthly Talk to the Board events in the stores.



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