Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Park Slope Food Coop Episode 4: So Far So Good

So far I have been a member of the Park Slope Food Coop for about 2 months.  Shopping is good.  I just have to get a tattoo that says. "Don't go to the Coop on a weekend afternoon"  It gets crowded, like fire hazard crowded.  But I don't have to go then.  Really, I will live.

But that is the whole point of joining the Coop; so that I can live.  and other people can live too.  I want to be a better person and I want to be a better neighbor.  The Coop helps me do that.

I can be better by eating better food.  Better food can be found at the Coop.  The veggies are better, the meats are better.  Who knows if a free range chicken are actually healthier to eat.  But I can say for certain that if you let a chicken live a happy life until you have it's head cut off, it tastes better than.

Working a "shift" is not bad.  I am part of the receiving squad.  Which means I help get stuff from the truck to the shelves.  Sounds simple.  Here is how it works at 99% of Supermarkets.  There is probably a Dairy Department and it has a Manager and 3 or 4 people who are "dairy people".  The truck pull in same time every day and the dairy people are waiting to unload it and put the milk, cheese, eggs and puddings on the shelves.  They are the full time staff of the supermarket.  7 days a week the same thing happens; dairy comes in and it gets put in the correct cooler.

Not so simple at the PSFC.  15 people at a time are assigned to various  receiving committees. There are 10 different overlapping 2 hour and 45 minute work slots a day.  Also people only work once every 4 weeks.  So there is a pool of like a thousand people that the Dairy Manager will call on to put the yogurt  on the shelves.

It works, food is put on the shelves.  It works in a really big way.  According to Fortune Magazine 
"The Park Slope Food Coop (PSFC), the largest consumer-owned single-store coop by sales in the U.S., had $39.4 million in sales during its last fiscal year, raking in more than $6,500 per square foot annually. "Anyone would salivate at that," says Ann Herpel, a general coordinator at PSFC. In our recent story on Trader Joe's we noted that the successful Monrovia, Calif.-based chain outdoes it competition with an average of $1,750 in sales per square foot, more than double those of Whole Foods (WFMI,Fortune 500)."

And because I work in Receiving I get to use one of these.  It is a lot of fun if I only have to do it once every 4 weeks

But there is a problem.  According to Secion 1 Rule C of the PSFC.  (page 2 of 49)

 All adults over the age of 18 who live together in a household are required to join the Coop. The Coop defines a household as two or more people who share all or some domestic responsibility. All family members (parents, siblings, partners, etc.) who live together and are over the age of 18 are required to join the Coop. There are no exceptions to this rule. The Coop sells much more than food, so if you and your roommate(s) share any household items, we consider you to be a household. This rule upholds the Coop's guiding principle: to regularly benefit from our low prices one must contribute labor.

So ever time I show my card to get in I am told I am on "alert." (See page 44 for the definitions of Alert.).  You are on Orientation Alert for you wife.  I don't know how long this will last.  I paid two membership fees and 2 investments.  I do all my wifes labor.  But my wife does not want to go to Orientation.  She does not need the information they give out there.  She will not shop or contribute her labor to the Park Slope Food Coop.

I have been asking everyone I know what will happen.  I got many answers.

  • Nothing, your alert will just end in a few more weeks if she does not try to shop
  • Everything, you will be kick out of the Coop if she does not attend Orientation
  • You will be on alert for ever.
  • You should have told them you were a single dad
  • You should go to Orientation again.  Just sign in as your wife.  You do that every time you work her shift.
  • Pay someone  to go to Orientation for her.
  • Give here membership card to a women who's husband does not want join the Coop. (I actually met her yesterday.)
I think I actually will tell he people in the office that we got divorced.  My wifes official reason for leaving me was my constant nagging about the fact that she has to go to the Park Slope Food Coop Orientation.

Let's see how this works out.


  1. It happens and they're used to it, but the Coop, as you've already learned, is a pretty small town. Don't tell the Coop membership office anything you wouldn't want your kids to learn.

  2. That video reminds me of our local Mike the Headless Chicken festival and 5K.

    I'm in a CSA here for our fruits and veggies but am still looking for something like this to get all my other food. We don't have to do workshares, though...just optional if you want to pay less.

  3. I don't understand why you told them you were married in the first place. If I EVER joined, I would just say I was single because there would be no way in hell I would do my husband's shift along with mine. i also like the idea of giving her membership card to a woman who has a hubby who doesn't want to join.


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