Kootenay Co-op Member Financial Benefits and You


In 2011, your Co-op’s Board adjusted our membership benefits package for the first time in close to 20 years. Now, over two years later, those changes have proven to be a resounding success for members and eased a number operational challenges behind the scenes. It improved our pricing and made it more transparent, made purchasing more organised and reduced out of stock product, and assisted departments in setting their margins accurately. Equally exciting, since those changes took place, the number of new members who have been signing up annually has almost doubled!

When we made these changes to member benefits, we committed to refine them as needed, and we’re hoping once again to refine our benefits and ensure our benefits are equally accessible to all members.

With the opening of our new store and Nelson Commons inching closer, we’re excited by the expanded opportunity to serve our members and community even better. The Board’s Member Outreach Committee had been drawing its attention on one benefit in particular and began to collect data on how this benefit is being used and if it continues to work in the best interest of the Co-op and its member-owners. The benefit under examination is the 10% ‘gift card’ given to member-owners who purchase more than $300 in a single shop. The Board has gathered that this benefit is ‘costing’ the Co-op in the neighbourhood of $5K-$6K per month ($176k since November 2011) and yet the benefit is being used by a very small proportion of our overall membership (approx. 150 of these cards are issued each month).

Coincidentally, as the Member Outreach Committee was assessing this benefit, we received an email from long-time Co-op member Stuart McKinnon who we subsequently invited to one of our meetings. Stuart writes;

“I am one of the people who regularly use the “over $300” benefit. I estimate that I do so about once a month, so over a year I’m receiving around $300 in gift cards. Regardless of how widespread the use of the “over $300” benefit, the question has to be asked how the benefit is being funded? If my speculation is correct that only a small proportion of members are taking advantage of it, then the inescapable conclusion is that the “over $300” gift cards are being funded by those members who don’t use the benefit.

As you can see, I’m arguing against my own best interests here, and doing so happily. If the “over $300” benefit is found to be inequitable, I would be glad to see it disappear.”

Indeed, Stuart’s speculations are correct and it’s great to receive unsolicited feedback like this from member-owners. Keep it coming! We do also actively solicit your input and we’d like to hear your feedback on this $300 question – so please drop the board a line! Or, if you’re free for lunch, we’ll be hosting our next Lunchbox event on May 14 with member benefits our subject of attention. Email Customer Service or drop by the desk when you are in next.

If you’d like to familiarize (or refamiliarize) yourself with the Co-op’s member benefits, visit our new web site and see all the ways Co-op membership works to benefit you directly and indirectly.

We’re proud to be serving over 12,500 members now, and we hope to make our community a better place with every product we sell.

[Also a reminder that the Board is actively inviting member-owners like you to consider running in this year’s Board elections. If this is of interest or if you’d like to learn more, check out our Potential Candidate Package online.]




Paula Sobie