Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Co-Op

I was talking with a friend recently and she mentioned that she often goes into the Astoria Co-Op. I asked if she found any friendliness issues there. It was like a light bulb turned on in her head. They ask her if she is a member, knowing full well she is not by now and she goes in a couple times a week. When she replies, “No” suddenly she is treated like a piece of dog shit that was tracked in on someone’s shoe.

I’ll be damned if I don’t have the same experience every time I go in there as well. I really like supporting local businesses, but not when they treat you poorly because you aren’t an investor into their scheme. I have no qualms about paying more because I am not a member, but I do have qualms about not being welcomed into their store.

If you line me up with their members you probably wouldn’t be able to pick me out, jeans, Birks, though I don’t wear a knit cap. Maybe it’s a world wide Co-Op thing. My friend Syd in Mississippi gets the same treatment at her Natural Food Co-Op.

I could have been a good customer for them. Their location is convenient for me. They sell things that I like to buy; products and brands with philosophies I support. They could be selling me hundreds of dollars of goods every month, which translates to thousands per year. It’s obvious they don’t want my business, so I will be happy to not give them my support and lucre. I’m really surprised they are still in business.

Just because they are based as a private club doesn’t mean that they are exempt from fostering good will to those who wish to support them. I will not support them until they get their act together.

There is a new Natural Food store in Gearhart, Pacific Way Natural Foods. They are very customer friendly. Though it is farther away, I feel it is totally worth my support. I hope some of the readers here will make the trip and support them as well.


Blogger Beth said...

What's that expression? Biting off your nose to spite your face? (I usually mangle these things.)
Why wouldn't this Co-op extend a welcome to everyone? This might even encourage people to join. At the very least, they'd make money from treating non-members well.
I don't get it. Some people are just plain crazy.

6:31 AM  
Blogger lori hahn said...

Part of my whole "I'm fed up with the city," thing is I'm NOT going to shop in places that aren't set up to welcome me and provide good customer service. My kids call me cranky--I say, "I've put up with bad service for 25 years for which I pay good money. I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore." I may pay more for old-fashioned customer service, but I don't mind.

6:54 AM  
Blogger RobbKidd said...

Some coops have become a specialized image. There is one in Vermont that has become a big conglomerate and it appears to be a large scale grocery store more than a member coop and treats members/customers in a cold manner, to me it might as well be Walmart. So if it is a good ethical and supportive coop support it others find somewhere else. I love my local coop, but it has problems just like another business.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have certainly made me feel better! I thought I got cold treatment there because I don't fit the "visual profile." It really is too bad they have such poor customer service. I see stores like that as one of the best ways to fight the corporate conglomerates--but they won't be able to if outsiders don't get courteous service to counteract the out-of-necessity higher prices.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Auntie L said...

I agree with today's rant, Guy!

Thank you for the tip, and I will be traveling to Gearhart from now on for my 'granola'ish stuff.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

We have a Farmer's Co-Op which sells stuff like feed and seed for ag activities. They are fabulous. Love to see people come through the door. I love going there just to talk to the people. We get our local honey there.

I wish we had a food co-op. It's farmer's market for us and that's hit and miss.

10:27 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Co-Ops are a wonderful idea and can be successful.

Community is a big word here. We have a community radio station, a community college, lots of community theater. The sense of community runs throughout it all, and is totally branded on each of us. But our community store seems not to hold these community values. It is so sad.

I have been getting emails of agreement all morning from people in our community who don't want to reply here on the blog. It's an epidemic. So sad...

12:04 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

Where in Gearhart, Guy? On the main drag? I'll go there as well.

Should we tell 'em the Guy in the Professor's tweed coat with elbow patches sent us? (SH says you look like a college professor).

12:28 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

It's right on the corner at the light at 101 and Pacific Way. The South West corner.

Funny thing is that I have never met your husband, so the only way he knows what I look like are from what he read on my blog or what you've told him. And my tweed jacket doesn't have elbow patches.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Wow! I had no idea this was a trend. I feel so much better now. LOL

Fucking hippies. (couldn't help myself)

12:45 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Syd, did you see that I wrote, "If you line me up with their members you probably wouldn’t be able to pick me out, jeans, Birks, though I don’t wear a knit cap" ???

I still love ya, Darlin!

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Bayou said...

Fucking Rednecks, hehehe....

I got a really good picture of your shitty co-op when I stayed at the Hotel Elliot. :)

3:35 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Bayou, hey, I can't get into your or Lach's blog. What's up with that?
Next time you are in town I'll take you guys for the insiders tour.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Bayou said...

I have no idea what's going on! :( We are trying to check in with our host to determine the problem.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man o man it's a good thing the internet wasn't around 30 odd years ago when the was started up by a ragtag bunch of Astorians in their 20's. The place would never have survived. The only time I ever had membership status was when my old lady volunteered a few hours a week as the spice girl. Now that I think about it, a good natured gentle snubbing of non members may be a long held tradition at our beloved Commie store I never let it bother me however, I'd just hang my head and try to come up with some sort of rejoiner without using the term "leper" or pointing out that my Costco membership was less than $50 per annum, all the while secure in knowledge that two bills for a 10% discount probably wasn't going to pencil out for me. I guess what I'm trying say in a round about way is if you wind up driving an extra 25 miles to help save the planet, every time you go shopping whats the point? Maybe someone could volunteer and work on the inside bring a new standard of friendliness (without being overly chipper or perky of course) to non members and bloggers in particular.

9:52 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Good point Anon. I'm not trying to encourage people to drive the extra miles for yogurt, but those who are actully shopping and stocking up on goods they need, and would rather support a local entity rather than corporate Kroger or the unfriendly attitude store.

I liked the Spice Girl line, very cute.

How can they change the attitude. They tried a couple years ago and it lasted about six weeks...maybe five weeks.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

"How can they change the attitude."

How about a letter writing campaign? I'm sure if they received enough commentary they would make a change, but they may not be reading your blog. They may not be aware of how they are perceived. It may not be all the people working there who have an attitude problem either. Sometimes all it takes is a small personnel change.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats probably the most logical solution, letter writing/email campaign or perhaps petition outlining your concerns regarding friendliness or what have you. A little constructive feedback can be a good thing for a business, for a spouse well thats another story. Perhaps they have a suggestion box, or perhaps they should have one. Frankly I hate to see them missing out on a bunch of patronage due to a problem that should be so easily fixable. Another great place to shop in Astoria is Columbia Fruit and Produce on Bond St. I used to love going there as a kid, they had a pickle barrel with the best dill pickles in the world. No Dr. Bronners peppermint soap though.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Electra said...

It seems that most co-ops have an ebb and flow of friendliness. I seriously doubt that it has anything to do with membership or not. By the way the Astoria co-op fees are WAY to high. But they have some great products and sometimes you have to get a little tude with your kombucha. Life is so hard.

9:32 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I have no idea how they are staying in business. Thanks for stopping by Electra.

5:40 AM  

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