Thursday, January 27, 2011

Co-op Mean Cooperation!

I have been mulling over a blog post. I was actually going to post it on my other blog, but I have had an opportunity to share with some people who had questions about this area. They are some of our farm customers and they read this blog, so I will post it here. :)

It is about being part of bulk buys and co-ops. One person just wanted to understand why anyone would be part of a co-op and the other one was talking more in depth about deals and bargains. I run a local co-0p. I buy from several places and also take part in bulk buys I hear about. I will start off with, why do I co-op.

Co-op is really just short of cooperation, or at least it is to me. There are companies out there that will give you a better price when you can buy more at one time, or even larger quantities at one time of certain items. As a co-op coordinator, I put the word out about what is available to order or what company we will be ordering from. I try to give a deadline of when I will need the orders by, so that I can put the entire order together and place it. Many companies have a minimum amount before you can even order and other companies have a minimum amount and you get free shipping. Free shipping can be a big plus if you order a lot. Not everyone orders every time. Some people buy a lot of their groceries through the co-op. They usually order every time. Others occasionally place a bulk order of a lot of items and then does not order again for several months. Others order one or two items as they need them or if they are on sale. All of these are normal for co-ops.

There are certain things you can do to make the whole co-op experience flow better. First of all, it helps if you can put your order in before the deadline. This gives the coordinator time to input items in spare moments instead of having to sit down for a whole morning to get the order together. It also helps to be clear in your communication. When someone places an order with me say from Frontier, I like the item number, name, amount wanted and the price. This helps me to be sure that I have the correct item when I input the order. Someone may just write and say that they would like a pound of cinnamon. Then I have to contact them as to which cinnamon they want, organic or non, etc. It is easier for me if I only have to look up that information for my order and not others. Another thing that helps is to be on time to pick up your items. Many times people call at the last minute or wait to be called and reminded that they were to pick up an order. I realize that emergencies do come up and I am more than willing to work with people, but it is nice to get the bulk if not all of the orders out in the original time slot. I am not fussing or complaining here, but trying to show you another side of the coin. The pick up day and hours are given before you place an order. I know that I have to be here during those hours so they are blocked off for me. Sometimes people call and want to come at another time for different reasons. I have had as many as 3 different people do this in one order. Then I have to make sure that I am here those 3 different times. Most of the time, this is not a problem, but if I get a chance to go somewhere, I like the freedom to go.

Another way you can help is if the call goes out that we are not quite at the minimum. Look to see if there is even just one item you can order to help make sure an order is able to be sent or that free shipping is a choice. That is where the word cooperation comes in. We all help each other get the best price possible.

If you hear of a good deal somewhere or if you heard about someone placing a bulk order for another item, share it with the coordinator so they can let everyone know. I know with the bulk cheese orders that a friend of mine does, the more you order the cheaper the price. They are glad to have others order with them to get this pricing.

I actually have a friend in another state that takes an active part in my co-ops. :) She is on my list and I place the orders. She mails me a check and when she passes through this area (2 to 3 times) per year, she picks up her items.

If you have other questions or comments about a co-op and how you can make it better, please leave a comment so we can all learn.

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