The store manager position is new for The Wedge as well as for me. Since taking the position last winter, I have immersed myself in all the departments to understand what really makes our co-op tick. I have focused on not just spending time with department managers but also with all of our bright and passionate staff. It has
been an absolute joy and inspiration. Here’s an update on what’s happening in the store:
The front-end staff (cashiers, baggers and Customer Service desk) continue to provide excellent service. We’re planning some remodeling for the department in the coming year, to better accommodate both staff and customer needs. Front-end staff members put considerable thought and energy into redesigning our “round up” donations program at the registers, now called Change Matters, to serve our community.
Produce continues to experience record sales, so much so that we have added more staff to that team. Dean Schladweiler added several new local growers to his lineup again this year. His continual work of fostering relationships with local growers keeps The Wedge’s Produce department a destination spot in the city. Schladweiler and some of the team will attend floral trainings this year, to help develop the growing floral section.
Grocery has a remodel on the agenda. The entire Liquid Bulk section will be rebuilt. The Bulk staff worked with the contractors on the project design, and we look forward to having the work completed in the new year. It’s going to be beautiful.
We hired a new Deli manager this year. Josh Clark brings to the Deli a wealth of knowledge about the food industry. As some of you know, we rolled out a new online catering program in the spring, and it has been a great success. Josh and the team will take catering to a new level while continuing to bring you delicious foods in the co-op every day.
Our Bakehouse is adding new breads and pastries all the time. The department has been a critical component to our off-site program, providing breads and rolls to restaurants and coffee shops, as well as to our Deli.
Meat and Seafood has seen some of our strongest growth this year. They added a new bison vendor from South Dakota. Aaron Nytroe, the department manager, and some of his staff took a trip out to the ranch to see firsthand the operation. They brought back incredibly moving stories and have been changed by the experience. Stop by the Meat counter to hear more about Wild Idea Buffalo and the other local producers we feature.
Health and Body Care continues to grow, with an especially strong focus on general merchandise. Our buyer went to a gift trade show in New York, and you will see plenty of fun new items rolled out for the fall and winter months. The focus has been on both fair trade and ethically and environmentally sound items. I don’t know about you, but most of my holiday gifts will be coming from the co-op this year!
We were pleased to promote a longtime staffer, Alan Makinen, to be our full-time organic certification and sustainability coordinator. We look forward to his focused commitment and leadership as we guide our business to be the most sustainable organization it can be.
I’m so grateful to be in my new role this year. The focus has not just been on sales growth, but on the growth and development of the staff we’re so privileged to employ. Many of them have attended workshops, trade shows, summits, vendor visits, and meetings around the country. By investing in our staff, we invest in our greatest strength—the people who serve our members everyday. We look forward to continuing our growth in the coming years.