Report from the General Manager

As I am sure many of you are, I am so grateful for March’s arrival! The sun is getting stronger and things are warming up. There’s a lot to look forward to right now! With the warmer weather, going outside gets easier (as a mother of a 6 year old, this is something I am very much looking forward to!), it also signals the imminent arrival of some of Ontario’s earliest crops and means we will soon see the faces of some of our farmers once again.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we first had to respond to COVID-19 and where our lives changed so much. Time is now measured in terms of COVID – what happened or how things used to be before COVID and everything that followed. Many things at the store have changed over the year. From shopping and administrative procedures, to shopping flow, to the community feeling our store is well known and loved for, and to our jobs as Karma staff, we had to very quickly shift our “business as usual”.

Change is not easy, and the current circumstances are certainly no exception! For everything that has changed, I am amazed at the outpouring of support, appreciation and recognition of the work and energy it takes to operate and work in a grocery store under the current conditions. I am so grateful to all the members who donate to the staff fund (Yes! There is a fund you can donate to show your appreciation for Karma staff! Simply ask to make a donation at the cash, or tack one on to your order for pick up or delivery), to the co-op, and to all the members who contribute their valuable time to the co-op through in store or committee and Board work. I can’t say thank you enough. Your contributions mean a lot and make our store the true gem that is.

On the topic of change, the staff and I have been getting a lot of questions about our preference for one person per household shopping at any given time. While we appreciate that shopping can be a social outing for many, the more people we are all in contact with, puts us all at greater risk. Unless there is a reason a second shopper is needed (ie assisting or caring for a vulnerable person, or assisting someone with mobility issues), the one shopper policy is something we encourage all to adhere to as it limits exposure.

The reason we prefer one shopper per household, is not only to keep numbers down during our busiest times, it is mostly to limit potential exposure. Less contact is the number one way we can reduce exposure. Having two people shopping instead of one, increases the possibility of exposure for yourselves, staff and other shoppers. Also, it is our experience that folks who shop together talk more (with each other) than a single person which more than doubles exposure since those talking emit more droplets compared to someone who is not talking.

We realize this is challenging, inconvenient and may seem inhospitable, however, shopping solo makes our workplace and store safer to work and shop. Other stores, like Fiesta Farms for example, are also encouraging shoppers to shop alone. Why? Because it better protects their frontline workers and other shoppers by reducing the number of people we are all exposed to. If you are able, please shop alone.

I am incredibly grateful that we have not had a single case of COVID among staff *knock really hard on a really big piece of wood*. We have navigated our new roles as frontline workers with gravity, diligence and a good sense of humour. All of this, coupled with the respect among members for the new policies, are what have helped keep us safe and healthy on the job and are what have helped keep the store open. We appreciate your understanding and continued support in our policies as we continue to navigate through the pandemic.

As some of you know, at the end of February we said goodbye to Prue. Over the last 3 years, members have gotten to know Prue for her bubbly, friendly and easy going nature. Her energy and laughter will be greatly missed by staff and members alike. Prue is leaving her position as Health and Beauty buyer at Karma to pursue a life in the country. Good luck with what lies ahead Prue! We will miss you greatly.

With a goodbye is always a hello. Micah is our newest team member! Micah comes to us with lots of co-op experience. Originally from New York City, they grew up as a Park Slope Co-op kid where they helped with produce maintenance and helped members carry out their groceries. They are currently a music student at U of T and are also Chair of Campus Co-operative Residences Inc (CCRI). Welcome Micah!

I miss the ease of conversations in the aisles at Karma. I miss the workshops and in person orientations. I miss seeing all of your faces. I am hopeful the time will soon be upon us where we can all shop and talk together with ease once again. At least with the warmer weather upon us, we will be able to take conversations outside and connect with each other while enjoying the sun and fresh spring air. Thank you again for all your support over the past year. With good food, we will and are getting through this! ❤️

Be well,