Members Respond to Changes to Member Benefits

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In February, the Board of Directors voted to change the $300 shop to a $500 shop. To read more about this decision and the reasons behind it, please read this post.

Several members have e-mailed the board to express how they are affected by the change to this benefit. Some members said that the change made it harder for them to do to their shopping at the Co-op, and others said that they would have preferred the adjustment to be made more gradually.  Stuart McKinnon is one member who wrote to share his thoughts:

I appreciate the recent announcement that the Co-op Board has reconsidered the 10% discount on large purchases (the $300 shop), and agree with the the Board President’s comment that the issue around this particular member benefit is one of fairness. I am concerned, however, that raising the threshold to $500 doesn’t address the fairness issue. Unlike other member discounts, such as case lot specials and manufacturer or supplier promotions, the $300 shop isn’t any more efficient for the Co-op, which still faces all of its normal costs in supplying the products being purchased. Accordingly, the 10% discount to the volume shoppers is being created at the expense of all the other members. That doesn’t sound fair to me. According to the FAQ, the $300 shop cost the Co-op $180,000 in the last fiscal year. That’s a lot of money which, in my view, could be applied in ways that benefit the membership more broadly.

The Board’s action will likely reduce the cost of sustaining this benefit because the usage will almost certainly decline with the higher threshold. However, the unfairness will continue because the concept of the volume discount is fundamentally flawed. A more equitable strategy, in my view, would be to terminate the $300 (now $500) shop discount benefit altogether. Conditions are much different now than they were when the $300 shop was created in 1992. Over the past several years, the Co-op has implemented a number of excellent member special programs which respond to the need for price sensitivity in a way that is accessible to all. One of these programs is a 10% discount on case lot purchases, which supports members wishing to save on volume purchases but in a way that is more efficient for the Co-op and more accessible to all members. Eliminating the $300 shop could fund an enhanced array of offerings.

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to share their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. The Board and Staff have taken your comments to heart and are currently evaluating some options for new instant member promotions that will be available to all members regardless of how much they are able to spend. We’ll keep you posted as we make progress toward this goal.