April 25, 2022
Thank you for shopping at our stores this past year, and for representing PCC’s vision, mission and values in the communities we serve.
After a second full year of social, economic and environmental upheaval stemming from the global pandemic and persistent societal inequities, it is comforting to reflect on the common purpose that unites us: PCC’s vision to inspire and advance the health and well-being of people, their communities and our planet.
Since being appointed CEO in January, I’ve greatly enjoyed connecting with many of you. I have shared my commitment to transparency and ensuring we provide relevant and timely information that keeps you connected with the co-op’s activities. With that, today we are sharing our 2021 Co-op Purposes Report. This report is in service to you and provides an overview of our collected mission-related work, accomplishments and impact in 2021.
Before I dive into what you will see in this year’s report, I want to first address the fact that the member dividend announced for 2021 is significantly lower than last year. It is very disappointing to us, as I am sure it is to you. I want to take a little time up front to share the “why”; it is important that you know the details of how we’ve balanced our priorities between providing a member dividend while also navigating the complexities of the pandemic business environment.
2021 was among the most challenging periods in our co-op’s nearly 70-year history. With sales falling shy of expectations, we also incurred $8.5 million in incremental and unplanned COVID-related expenses, including nearly $8 million in hazard pay alone. As a small and independent cooperative grocer with a dedicated presence only in the greater Seattle area, our business is not capable of absorbing costs of this magnitude without significant consequence. This expense consumed almost all the co-op’s net income for the year, including the net income associated with member shopping.
Since member dividends are paid out exclusively from member net income, the pool of dollars available for us to share from in 2021 was therefore also significantly smaller — only $557,395. While it is not as much as we had hoped, we are distributing it in entirety to our members, with deep and sincere thanks to each and every one of you.
I hope you all believe, as I do, that membership in our co-op is a multifaceted experience of which the dividend is but one component. We believe that you choose PCC because of what we stand for: advocacy for the highest product standards, community impact through partnerships and giving, healthy food access for all, and sustainable operations at our stores. All these efforts, in aggregate, reflect who we are — and we come to work each day seeking to make these benefits ever more meaningful to you.
This Purposes Report aims to report back to you the work we have been doing in a number of areas, including evolving our focus on Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI), continuing to give back to our communities, and supporting PCC staff.
Over the past few months, I have introduced a framework for the co-op’s focus areas and what we strive for: to be a great place to work, to operate excellent stores, to do good in our communities, and to reach more people. I am keen to share how these themes align with much of what we accomplished last year:
- Be a great place to work. The health, well-being and happiness of PCC’s staff are and always will be our top priority. During the past year, you likely heard about hiring and retention challenges for all businesses. We were not immune and know there is always more to be done to provide for our staff; this is our commitment and an ongoing focus. We have worked to provide growth opportunities: 90 percent of our store management positions were filled by the promotion of internal candidates. We welcome you to learn more about our Compensation Philosophy.
- Operate excellent stores. Overall safety remained a top priority for the co-op as we continued to adhere to local COVID-related mandates. With our continued focus on sustainability and high standards, we successfully advocated to bring back the use of reusable containers in our stores for most bulk products and drip coffee. We also began phasing out rice-based baby food products identified to have dangerous levels of heavy metals. We put as much care into designing our stores as we do in developing the unique product mix found in them. Our beautiful West Seattle and Bellevue stores met the most stringent green-building standards set by the International Living Future Institute and are Living Building Challenge Petal-Certified.
- Do good in our communities. Serving our communities is at the heart of our mission and values. In 2021, this came to life through our second year of the Growing for Good program which, in partnership with Neighborhood Farmers Market and Harvest Against Hunger, provided $100,000 in support to 14 local, organic family farms which in turn provided fresh produce to 19 local food banks. Last year, we also supported local and regional events and organizations with nearly $120,000 in donations and sponsorships. Prior to opening our Downtown store, we issued $30,000 in grants to Downtown nonprofits for the purchase of organic goods used to strengthen food security. You can stay updated on work like this and much more in our bimonthly Sound Consumer newspaper in stores and online.
- Reach more people. We saw a 13 percent increase in membership last year and that is just one area of growth. I am thrilled that last year we were able to offer our cooking classes through both in-person and virtual experiences. We also redesigned our grant application process and outreach efforts to improve access for all. This commitment to inclusion extends to our supplier community as well, and our Merchandising team is working to better support Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) vendors by identifying and addressing existing barriers to get their products on shelves.
These are just some of the highlights from the Co-op Purposes Report, and I do hope you will take some time to dig in and learn more. I welcome your feedback and ideas about how to best serve your needs and our local communities. You can reach out to email@example.com.
We acknowledge and appreciate your valuable loyalty to our co-op and continued commitment to our shared mission. On behalf of the PCC Board, Leadership Team and our entire staff, thank you for your membership. We look forward to continuing to serve you.
CEO & President