Thursday, May 28, 2009

Discounts to Dividends

What follows is my comment in response to a thread of discussion on OrangePolitics about the decision by the Board of WSM to replace consumer-owner point-of-sale discounts with an end-of-year dividend (in years of profit):

Hands up anyone who thinks Obama's got everything right so far? Right. Hands up those who think we should impeach him?

Same with Weaver Street. I've stood for the Board twice now, and I'll be doing so again this year. Why? Because I don't think we get everything right.

Everyone who has written on this thread so far says that, like me, they don't want WSM to go under. Good. Then the first thing to do is support the stores. Stop shopping at Fresh Market and Trader Joes and Whole Foods.

You can't have it both ways. You can't say it would ruin this area to lose the co-op, and then do the one thing that will lead to its ruin - stop its cash flow.

But we need more than your money. We need your involvement.

All of you who complain about the decisons that were taken, and the way they were taken, how many of you turn up to the Annual Meeting? Or to Board Meetings. Or to vote?

A co-op is like a love affair. It has its ups, it has its downs, but most of all it needs work. All the time.

Those of you who know me will know that I can be the strongest critic of the Board and senior management of WSM. But I turn up. I care. I get my hands dirty. And I do what I can to make things better. Do you?

I will be blunt. I do not think the Board should have made this decision without first consulting the consumer-owners. Co-operative values state: "the primary source of all authority in the co-op is its owners."

I do not think the hole in our finances is caused by the consumer-owner discount, but by the over-arching cost of the Food House and the new Hillsborough store.

But I do not throw my hands up and run away. I make my point. And I then knuckle down. I work hard to make the money we need. I work hard to make the decisions work. And I will work hard to get elected, so that I can then work hard to make better decisions.

Don't sit on the sidelines and carp. Join me in working hard to make our co-op work - for everyone's sake. Please.


On a lighter, a customer comes up to me and says, 'what does it all mean about discounts, then...?'

I grab a dollar bill in my left hand, and an owner card in my right, and I say: 'well, dis counts, and dat doesn't...'

Oh come on. I'm joking! You've gotta laugh at life...