In 1961, eight years after PCC was founded, our earliest members had a pivotal choice to make: Develop into a corporation owned by only a few, or keep their business in the hands of the community which began it.
They chose the latter, and in so doing, set PCC on the path to become a place where shared values are as celebrated as a meal shared among good friends. Inspiring them were cooperative principles that still guide us at PCC today:
- Membership is voluntary and open to everyone, regardless of the color of your skin, where you come from, who you love or what you believe. At PCC, this isn’t limited to our members. It extends to everyone who walks through our doors: shoppers, producers, vendors and staff.
- Democratic member control ensures every voice is heard. Open, active dialogue and respectful, healthy debate make our co-op stronger. Last year, nearly 4,000 members and shoppers reached out to our stores and office to speak their minds — and our co-op is better because of it.
- Information is one of the most valuable things a co-op can offer its staff, members, shoppers and partners. We educate by reporting about food policy and advocacy in the Sound Consumer; teaching cooking skills in our PCC Cooks classes; informing shoppers and vendors about our product standards; and making our knowledgeable staff available in each store and department, daily.
- Co-ops should remain independent from government, consolidated ownership or other organizational control. This means the future of PCC always will be in the hands of our members here in Seattle, not distant private equity firms or Wall Street investors.
While these principles act as a framework for how we behave, PCC’s mission is to create a cooperative, sustainable environment in which the natural and organic supply chain thrives. It is this mission that gives our co-op its reason for being while inspiring us to nurture and grow our co-op, year after year.
In 2016, that meant bringing organic foods to more people and supporting more producers and growers in the Pacific Northwest. The opening of our Bothell store and the expansion of delivery played important roles enabling us to do that. This, in turn, allowed us to hire more staff, welcome new members and grow our impact in our communities.
Our mission also guides our activism. Our co-op’s voice is loudest and most effective when we speak out where we are most informed and invested: on food policy, standards and practices. This is what led us, in 2016, to implement new product standards for supplements and body care products. The rigorous review process resulted in the identification of 550 ingredients that we no longer accept in the products we sell and, possibly, set the highest category standards in the nation.
Like people, organizations are defined by who they are and what they believe. At PCC, we believe in the power of good food — to bring people together, spark dialogue and debate, foster community, and create educated members and shoppers. There will always be choices to be made by our co-op. Big ones influenced by changing policy. Smaller, nuanced ones that affect which products we carry. But who we are and the values we believe in should never change.
We know you make a choice each time you fill your basket at PCC. You have many options, and we’re honored you return to us again and again. Hopefully not just for the made-from-scratch deli dishes or the local, organic produce, but because you’ve found in us a like-minded community, where you feel welcomed, heard and fully nourished.
CEO, PCC Natural Markets