Discovering Karma

Everyone at Karma has their “How did you find Karma?” story. As a new member and, now, head of the new Marketing & Communications Committee, I would like to share mine. I think my story provides some potentially useful insights into how we can create a bright future for the Co-op. But I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

I grew up in Toronto but was a bit disillusioned working here, so I moved to Europe, where I lived for 15 years. When I came back home about 13 years ago, I bought a house on Manning at Harbord. I love the area and was often at the Bill Bolton hockey rink and St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club with my son, so I certainly walked by the Karma sign. But, in all that time, I never walked down Karma Lane or the walkway from Palmerston Ave. and didn’t discover the Co-op.

For me, the signs and walkway did not communicate anything. And if it did, it was not anything particularly positive. I never imagined there was a full grocery store hidden away. I did not even think about it for years as it just seemed to be something like a vaguely cult-like club. This is a bit curious because in London, England there are many of these types of hidden places, but I never imagined this in Toronto. In fact, a friend even recommended Karma to me a few years ago, but I still did not get over my reluctance to visit. It seemed complicated, and I am quite shy. But then my friend Greta Thunberg (well, she is not really my friend but the boldest teenager I have ever seen) called out to treat this climate emergency for what it is a – a crisis! I was pushed to really think about what else I could do to reduce my carbon footprint. Environmental awareness has stuck with me since my days at university where I majored in geography. I started shopping at Bulk Barn, but I realized that was not enough. I had to take more action in my buying habits — no more plastic dishwashing soap bottles! I needed to see if Karma could help me reduce my environmental impact. And, of course, it did, but now I feel guilty that I did not get here sooner!

How can I learn from this experience and help others find Karma sooner? How many other shy, disorganized, busy, overwhelmed people are searching for this store but don’t know how to find it?

When I heard that a marketing committee was being formed to help spread the word about Karma to the community and Toronto as a whole, I thought, “I understand this challenge.”  Many people don’t know about the store. It is heralded as an “undiscovered gem,” but is that good enough? I think we may now have an obligation to let people know that there is an option and that it is close at hand. Near the subway! In these days when everyone needs help to reduce their environmental impact, I feel it is a mission. I will never be Greta but I can help. We have to increase the awareness of Karma and let more people know about the store — for the environment and especially when ethically sourced food is now on so many people’s minds!

I am happy to lead the brand new Marketing & Communications Committee and am looking for all your great ideas to help people find Karma. We hope that our first initiative will be a gift card so that people can, for example, give new neighbours a membership for a year as a welcome gift. We have a number of other initiatives especially as we head into our 50th anniversary — what a birthday to celebrate in 2022!

Do you have other ideas on how we can reach a wider audience? How did you find Karma? Please share your stories with the e-Chronicle, and we will publish them over the next few months. I welcome others to join the committee as well — we need your help (membership hours will be earned of course!). Contact us.

Act local, think global.

submitted by Mary Bredin