Calling Lapsed Karma Members

By Bob Biderman

When the Karma Board asked those of us on the orientation committee to phone members who hadn’t been in the store since the start of the pandemic and encourage them to return, I viewed the calls as something that could be helpful, but it was a task I didn’t particularly look forward to. I guess I worried that people would loudly complain to me about things they didn’t like about the co-op that is such an important part of my life. And did I hear complaints? Yes – but just once.  

I’m delighted to report instead that phoning Karma folks was quite pleasurable.   Over a period of a few weeks I made somewhere close to one hundred and fifty calls.  What I found to be terrific was that, overwhelmingly, Karma members, even those who won’t be returning, let me know that they value our co-op more than I could have imagined.  We have indeed created something quite special.

Karma folks are a mobile bunch and many have moved to more distant parts of our city and beyond, but so far forty-nine members have told me that they plan to return to Karma immediately or will try to get back to the store when they can.  The majority of those had stayed away because of reasons related to Covid.  Several people who will be returning told me how pleased they are that they will no longer be asked to shop just once a week, or to shop alone.  I’ve recently learned too that the number of shoppers allowed in the store at one time has been upped from six to ten.  That means that there won’t be many times when people will have to wait in line outdoors, particularly now that cold, wet weather is on the way.  Masks and distancing are still in force though.  Sales have started to noticeably pick up with the return of many members and the community feel that we treasure at Karma is returning with them.  We can all celebrate that, but the pandemic hasn’t been easy on our food co-op as a business or as a community hub.  Karma has always experienced attrition in terms of membership, but we have also always had new members come on board.   During the pandemic that hasn’t been happening.  It’s great that many lapsed members are returning, but to keep the business viable we need as many members as possible to shop.  The board has plans to do outreach to the community but it would also help if we encourage our friends, neighbours, family members and colleagues at work and school to think about joining. Let’s support Karma in its 50th year so it will still be here for another fifty.