Co-op and the Community: From Public Welcome to Everyone Welcome

Staff Member, Kathleen Quinn, remarks on how word choice can change the whole perception of who can shop at the Co-op. In a nutshell, EVERYONE is welcome to visit and shop in our store!

The signs out front and our logos have long said “public welcome.” Co-op insiders will know exactly where that comes from—an effort to inform the community that you don’t need to be a member to shop at the Co-op. If that’s the message we wish to convey, “public welcome” does the job. But what if we want to go farther than that? What if we want to signal to each and every person in our community to understand that the Co-op is, truly, for everyone?

Read below for Kathleen's article:

Public Welcome to Everyone Welcome


The year 2020 taught us all many things. More than ever, we appreciate the time we share with others, we are thankful for our good health, we have learned to wear masks, and we now meet online.


We’ve also seen more clearly the problems in our communities—some of which were invisible to many of us before 2020 pulled back the veil. We now better understand voter suppression, the devastating impact of a faltering public health system, the fraught relationship between communities of color and our justice system, the damage that a steady diet of misinformation can do to our relationships.


After such a year, we might be forgiven if we struggle with what to do now. How do we defeat the virus? How do we solve seemingly intractable social problems? How do we heal our communities? As individuals, we struggle to get our heads around these questions, and the enormity of them can be paralyzing. Here at the Co-op, a community-owned, community-centric, community-driven organization, we too wrestle with what we can do to help. Even with our focus on community, we are still a grocery store after all.


But maybe there is something the Co-op can do.

The signs out front and our logos have long said “public welcome.” Co-op insiders will know exactly where that comes from—an effort to inform the community that you don’t need to be a member to shop at the Co-op. If that’s the message we wish to convey, “public welcome” does the job. But what if we want to go farther than that? What if we want to signal to each and every person in our community to understand that the Co-op is, truly, for everyone?

Our everyone includes, of course, non-members. We would love it if you joined us, but we’re perfectly happy to have you shop here as a non-member. It includes seniors watching their pennies—Wednesday is the day you’ll get 10% off on everything in the store. It includes folks trying to make a little go a long way—our bulk flours, grains, oils, and spices can compete with those found at any large grocery chain, and our produce section always has a bargain or two or three available.


Our everyone also includes folks who have never once stepped inside the Co-op’s door; those who believe you have to work in the store to shop in the store (you don’t); those who believe everything in the store is over-priced (it’s not); those who believe it’s only for hippies, liberals, and anarchists (um, no).

What about those who cannot abide by the Co-op’s COVID policies or cannot come into the store to shop? For those folks, the Co-op has set up a whole program so they can shop the Co-op anyway; it’s our curbside program, and it is open to anyone in our community. So yes, these folks are also included in our everyone.

In the next weeks and months, the Co-op will be making changes to its logos and signage to reinforce our commitment to inclusivity, to serving everyone. It may seem like a small thing, but many small things put together can add up to big things. The Co-op recognizes that as a grocery store, even a cooperative one, we are limited in what we can do to address all the issues facing our community right now. But at the end of the day, at the very least, you can be assured that everyone is welcome at the Co-op.

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