Thursday, April 06, 2006

Socializing In Our New Community

Yesterday Brad and I joined the Park Slope Food Coop (pronounced co-op). Ever since we found our new apartment, the Coop and it's proximity to us has been mentioned as a huge bonus in the neighborhood from sources as varied as one of my creatve directors to our broker. I had also seen some chatter about it on another food blog that helped pique my curiosity.

After wandering around and finding the various, nearby food markets to be dissapointing and inferior in both price and quality to my beloved Williamburg huant, Tops on the Waterfront, I decided it was time to investigate. Late last week I walked into the Food Coop to find out how to get a membership. As the ladies working instructed me to take this pamphlet and that and plan to attend a workshop, another woman popped up behind me and asked if I wanted a tour. Why not?

We wandered the aisles while she pointed out the food and other wares for sale, adding a bit of Coop trivia and philosphy here and there. All was very nice until we reached the checkout area at which point she said to me, "Well, if you'd like to join you should plan on attending an orientation. But uh, I'm going to have to escort you to the door now and you'll have to leave. You see, this is a member-based organization and I can't let you just wander around unsupervised . . ." An akward silence followed as all my plans for running feveroushly through the aisles stuffing my pants with low-priced organic meats and vegetables then forcing a cashier via headlock to let me pay for them without a membership card went down the drain. "OK." I said, "Well, thanks."

So, yesterday morning Brad and I woke up bright and early to attend the 10am mandatory member orientation where we learned the Park Slope Food Coop's moto, "Good Food at Low Prices." We also learned about the other costs of this good food, including a membership fee (per household member, therefor x2), a financial "investment" (also per household member, but refundable should you leave the Coop) and most importantly, a work shift. That's right, it's a cooperative so we have to work, but they tell us that also makes us owners who bear the right to attend meetings and voice our opinions as well as request new products to be stocked and propose new policies and procedures (like a much needed debit or credit card pay system that is supposedly in the works).

I realize that this all might sound silly at this point, which it is, but it is also cool. The Coop's policy is a fixed 21% mark-up on prices from wholesale as opposed to the 90%-100% mark-up in grocery stores (I learned this during the slide show). And as well as carrying a lot of organic and natural items, with 12,000 members shopping the turnaround is fast and the food is fresh. So after the presentation, tour and Q&A session, we joined. We had pictures taken and we signed up for our work shifts. Brad (the lucky dog) will be wearing a crossing gaurd vest and walking members to their cars or homes (within a three block radius) and returning their carts for 2.5 hours every fourth Wednesday afternoon. I however, not being able to predict a regular available weekday, was subjected to the bottom of the ladder options for evenings and weekends and will be working as a cashier for 2.5 hours during every fourth, Monday night closing shift.

After our eventful morning of orientating followed by shopping
(and yes, we got some good stuff), we headed around the corner from our house to a Mediteranean restaurant where we had some delicious merguez sandwiches for lunch. Over our baba ganoush appetizer Brad said to me, "I'm going to have some coversation with my Dad when I tell him we joined a socialist super market."

1 comment:

amandumb said...

a. i don't have to belong to my coop but i love it and would gladly work for it.
b. i would much rather work register than push carts.
c. socialism is fun.