Happy February, fellow Karma members and welcome prospective members!

For the past year and a half or so, you may have noticed that many new people are coming in to Karma for the first time. Last year alone, over 600 new people came and shopped at our food store, which is fantastic as we need a steady stream of new members to be sustainable. The challenge we face as a community is that many of those new shoppers only came once, and only 10% became members.

Last year, as I started to understand just how many new people were trying Karma for the first time, I began introducing myself to shoppers who looked like they might appreciate some friendly help in navigating our store. Of course, I have made mistakes, but no harm done. I am sure you may also have noticed someone staring at our bulk bins or not sure where to turn to find something on their shopping list, and wondered if it was their first visit.

I have helped people find things on their shopping list or navigate our up cycled containers area, and given many impromptu tours of my favourites, including the admittedly somewhat hidden bulk olives or dark-grade maple syrup.  Just last weekend, I met a lovely young couple with a 15-month-old baby, and it was their first visit to Karma! I welcomed them and gave them a bit of an orienting tour of the store, and I hope they had an excellent first visit to Karma. They would be great members as they want to buy high quality food for their new family, and life-changing moments, like becoming a parent or moving into the neighbourhood, are the best times to establish new habits like shopping at our food co-op. I hope they felt welcomed into our Karma community, and come back!

This is my call to action for all of us members. Let’s make an effort so people’s first experiences of Karma and our community are the best they can be. I think we as members could do so much more to assist visitors to Karma to ensure they have a wonderful, warm and welcoming experience in our food co-op, so many more of these visitors come back again!

Right now, I believe visitors to Karma are essentially left to figure things out alone, and this likely contributes to some disappointing introductory experiences. As a food co-operative and a community, I believe we should all take more responsibility in guaranteeing that our visitors have an excellent first experience that encourages them to come again, to learn more about Karma, and to become new members.

Please consider becoming an unofficial ambassador for Karma when you are in the store, and help make someone’s first shopping experience a pleasure.

Andrea Dawber

Karma Vice President