From the GM—July 2018

Dear Karma Members,

July is plastic-free month, and what better way to celebrate the month than with our new bulk bins! Buying in bulk saves on packaging, limits the consumption of food additives, is cheaper, and encourages reuse. Karma offers a few options to limit plastic consumption: you can bring your own container to fill; use a pre-loved container from under the members’ table; purchase a reusable Karma drawstring bulk bag; or purchase a paper bag. There are alternatives available and we encourage you to take advantage of them rather than grabbing for a new plastic bag.

Karma has always been a leader in what’s now called “zero-waste” living, only now, we’re doing it better. We carry a highly unique bulk product line, from toothpaste to miso. Over the coming weeks we will be increasing our offerings even more to make Karma your number one stop for your zero-waste needs. If there are any additions you’d like to see at Karma, let us know! We’re always looking to improve! Stay tuned to our social media channels to learn about new products and tips on how you can reduce your plastic consumption and waste generally.

The feedback we have received on the bins has been overwhelmingly positive and we are so thrilled that you love your new bins as much as we do! With the new bins, we don’t have to pre-bag any bulk in plastic bags, we can sell more products, and our bulk takes up a smaller amount of space. Thank you to all the members who helped with the renovation, and the BIGGEST thank you to the amazing staff who worked so incredibly hard to make this transition happen. The new bins wouldn’t have been possible without all of your help!

In staffing news, Karma’s bulk and meat purchaser James Byrne is going back to school in September! We’re so excited for him and know he will do amazing things. James will be taking a leave of absence for two months before coming back to work at Karma once a week in October. We will miss his master selling techniques and cheery self so very much while he is gone. Please wish him the best of luck in his studies.

Yours co-operatively,
Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

From the GM—May 2018

Dear Karma Members,

It’s official. Spring has sprung! The local greens have started to make their way through our doors, and we’re looking forward to what’s to come. We’re patiently awaiting the fiddleheads and wild leeks. We’ll let you know as soon as they arrive!

I am very excited to share with you some very big news. Some of you know that retrofitting our bulk section has been a dream of mine since I started my work as General Manager. Well, this dream is coming true! In mid-June, Karma will be getting new bulk bins! New bins will increase the general aesthetics of the store, make better use of floor space, and keep products fresher, longer. It will also mean no more pre-bagging bulk in plastic bags!! You will be able to get all our bulk in your own receptacles in as little or as much as you like. This will also extend to our frozen bulk items such as wild blueberries and refrigerated bulk items, including parmesan cheese and hemp hearts. Increasing our unpackaged bulk selection will hopefully lead to increased sales in the department. I very much hope you will love the investment! I know the staff and I cannot wait.

In April, we wrapped up our social media campaign. A successful go for our first attempt! We are starting to see an increase in new shoppers who have found out about Karma through social media. Thank you to all the members who participated in sharing their Karma stories with us, and their beautiful faces. And a very, very big thank you to the member who covered the costs of hiring our social media consultant through a generous donation. This will most definitely benefit our co-op. THANK YOU!

Karma is now more energy efficient! We qualified for Toronto Hydro’s refrigeration retrofit program. We received night curtains for our produce display cooler, strip curtains for our walk-in coolers, and a new motor for our produce cooler!

In staffing news, Sierra and Cheyenne are leaving Karma to pursue work in their fields. We are so grateful to them for all of their energy and work that they brought to Karma. We will miss them both and wish them all the very best in whatever comes their way. Best of luck you two! You will be missed!

Prue and Christina are our newest staff members! Prue will be taking over the responsibilities of the HABA department. Welcome both!

Yours co-operatively,

Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

From the GM—April 2018

Dear Karma Members,

Having just received the first delivery of the 2018 Ontario spinach and lettuce, we’re getting excited about what’s on the horizon for local food! March and April are some of the more difficult months for sourcing local food as the last of the storage crops get used up and we wait for warmer temperatures.

At Karma, we do our best to source local ingredients as much as possible even during these months. Our small size and way of doing business means we are able to provide members with more local options throughout the year than larger grocers. Currently, we have 30 produce items grown in Ontario and Quebec, including cucumbers, cabbage, loose carrots, mushrooms, garlic, onions, and apples.

It only gets better from here! Keep your eye on our social media pages to keep informed about what’s fresh and in season.  You’ll also find some great tips and recipes for living more sustainably!

Happy Spring!!

Yours co-operatively,

Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

From the GM—March 2018

Dear Karma Members,

It has been a very busy month at the Co-op! We’ve been working hard to bring in some great new products for you with a real focus on reducing plastic and waste. We hope you love the new additions as much as we do. We had a lot of fun researching them and getting to know the people who make them.

As many of you have noticed, we moved some things around in the produce section. The reviews have been overwhelming positive. We’re thrilled you love the new space! We are also finishing up work in the bathroom. Soon it will have a fresh coat of paint and new backsplash!

We’ve also been working hard on getting our social media team and campaign off the ground. Thanks to some hard-working and creative members and our social media consultants at The Enabling City, we will be sharing our best content and spreading the word about Karma. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (click on “Follow Us” at the top of the page on the right) and to like and share our posts. The more things get shared, the more people will find out about our co-op!

We recently got news that Kathryn Camfield has decided to lay some roots in Victoria and stay beyond her leave of absence. Though we will miss her, we’re happy and excited for her. There have been rumours that she is keen to start up a food co-op in Victoria! ???? We’ll all be rooting for you Kat!

Join Karma’s Social Media Team!

Are you social media savvy? Do you love to create engaging content for the world to see? Are you passionate about environmental, food, or sustainability issues? Are you passionate about your co-op? We’re looking to up our social media game and need people with skills and passion in these areas to help us increase our social media presence. We need to fill various roles including team liaisons, content creators, editors, and schedulers. If you are interested in getting your member labour hours by helping Karma reach our social media goals, please contact Talia.

Yours co-operatively,

Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

From the GM—February 2018

Dear Karma Members,

We have been busy working with our social media consultant from Enabling City over the past two months to launch Karma’s first social media campaign! The purpose of the campaign is to help get the word out about Karma and to ultimately drive traffic to the store. We’ll need your help to make the campaign successful since a big part of its success relies on how much they are viewed and shared among our networks. If you “like,” comment on and share our campaign posts, the more visibility we’ll get, and, with that, more traffic to the store! Keep your eyes peeled for the campaign launch! You may see someone you know…

Another way you can help to promote Karma is by rating us on Yelp. Yelp is a site to help people find local businesses. If someone is searching for “Organic Grocery Stores,” we want to make sure Karma is at the top of the list. The more reviews we have, the more likely we are to come up in people’s Yelp searches. And of course, positive reviews are even better! 😉  It’s a simple way members can help boost the co-op’s visibility and get more people shopping at Karma.

We’ve been doing some rearranging again! Our new bulk cleaner section has been turning heads! We’ve placed all our bulk cleaning products in one convenient location for you to refill your containers. We even brought in some exciting new products like white vinegar, dishwasher tabs, and hand soap, all in bulk!

We are also reorganizing the members’ room! This space has historically been a graveyard for unwanted books and forgotten items, as well as used as extra storage for the store. I will be working with Karma member Tonia Cordi, owner of Time and Space Solutions, to revision the space so that it is more welcoming and functional for members’ use. I hope you enjoy the changes!

Join Karma’s Social Media Team!

Are you social media savvy? Do you love creating engaging content for the world to see? Are you passionate about environmental issues, food politics, and sustainable living? Are you passionate about your co-op? We’re looking to up our social media game and need people with skills and passion in these areas to help us increase our social media presence. We need to fill various roles including team liaisons, content creators, editors, and schedulers. If you are interested in getting your member labour hours by helping Karma reach our social media goals, please contact Talia.

Yours co-operatively,

Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

From the GM—December 2017

Dear Karma Members,

You know it’s the holidays at Karma when the Darn Tough socks arrive! And they have! As the holidays quickly approach, we are busy preparing for the festivities! We are busy ordering new products and deciding which items our members will enjoy throughout the season. You will be able to find all that you need for your holiday entertaining and, of course, great gift ideas!

To make your holiday shopping easier this year, we are offering our first ever assembled holiday gift bags! These bags feature some of our favourite products and come packaged in Karma totes and reusable bulk bags. You can even order online for quick pick up in store!

You’ll be happy to know that we are once again taking pre-orders for Southbrook Vineyards organic wines. Don’t forget that 10% of wine orders goes back to Karma! So stock up for your holiday entertaining at Karma!

After the positive feedback we received about the West End Food Co-op (WEFC) tourtières last year, we will be taking pre-orders again this year! Handmade in the WEFC kitchen, these traditional Québecois meat pies are made with grass-fed organic ground beef and pork from Hoffnung and Beretta Farms. You can order in store or by emailing me at manager@karmacoop.org.

Enjoy the holidays, Karma members!

Yours co-operatively,

Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

From the GM — November 2017

Dear Karma Members,

Thanks to all who attended this year’s AGM. It was a well-attended meeting complete with AGM regulars and some new faces as well! We welcomed four new faces to the Board of Directors and said goodbye to several members as well. I wanted to sincerely thank all the board members who left the board this year. Being on the Board of Directors is a big commitment and very important work. I truly enjoyed and learned so much in working with each one of you. Thank you for your commitment to Karma and in helping your co-op move forward.

On a related note, I realize I wrongfully neglected to mention a very important topic and thank you at the AGM — a topic I am sure would have sparked discussion around the room, especially since I had received so much input on the topic from members individually. That was in regards to the member who generously gave a monetary gift to help Karma in whatever way the board and myself saw appropriate. As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, this was a gift given from someone who adores their co-op and who is also in a position to give. This gift is so greatly appreciated and will surely do good for our co-op. I want to offer my deepest gratitude and thanks to that individual.

The donation and article, Karma’s Future, had members talking. The spirit of the article was to present the option of donating and to inspire other members who might find themselves in a similar position to give in a monetary way.

You will be happy to know that the article has inspired others. Since the article was written, another member contacted me to find out how their money could be of use to Karma. After some discussion, this member decided they would like to fund Karma’s social media strategy — a project that will be commencing mid-November for approximately four months, and that will see us hiring a social media professional to help boost Karma’s social media and online presence in order to increase membership.  So another very big and grateful thank you needs to be expressed to this member, a long-time member to whom Karma means a great deal. Your generosity is very appreciated by myself and fellow members. Thank you, thank you.

If any of this resonates with you, please feel free to connect with me to chat about the possibilities. I would be happy to explore any ideas you might have or share with you some of mine.

FREE Vermicompost!

Karma’s worms and vermicompost team have been working hard to produce and harvest this year’s worm compost! Help yourselves to the compost for use in your gardens or houseplants. The compost is in blue rubbermaid bins just outside the front doors. Vermicompost is a wonderful soil amendment full of vital nutrients to keep your plants (and soil!) healthy. Use as is as a top dressing or make into a tea for fast absorption by plants.

Changes to cashing out

In the very near future, we will be asking for your last name, instead of household number, when cashing out. This is to resolve some issues we’ve been having with members being cashed out under the wrong accounts. We hope that in asking for member’s names, we will alleviate this issue and be more personable in the process!

Yours co-operatively,
Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

From the GM—October 2017

Dear Karma Members,

Karma is a recent (and the first!) member of the Local Food and Farm Co-ops (LFFC)! Among the benefits of our membership are that we have access to an array of tools relevant to co-ops, receive discounts on co-op conferences, and are also eligible for partnerships in funding applications where applicable. Karma was fortunate to be selected to participate in a local food marketing grant that the LFFC received. As part of this grant, a short video was made about our co-op! You may see some co-op and local food marketing material around the store. These are to help us promote our local products, suppliers, and producers, and hopefully to increase sales of these items.

I want to say a very big thank you to the anonymous member who gave Karma a generous monetary gift. I would also like to thank Woodsworth Housing Co-op who recently recognized Karma through a generous donation as well. These were both very big surprises and we are very appreciative for these gifts to our co-op! Thank you!

There are a few ideas in mind as to how to best spend this money. These include replacing some of our old bulk bins, posting a new sign at Follis Ave., and possibly helping to cover some of the cost of hiring a social media strategist to help us improve our online presence in order to improve member recruitment.

The article “Karma’s Future,” written by an anonymous member in last month’s e-news, has sparked a lot of conversation within the co-op. Members have approached me wondering about the state of the co-op. “Are things really that bad?” they ask. My answer has been that while we’ve been down this road before and that though things are not as bad as they were in 2012/2013, both sales and member recruitment are down. The reality is we cannot continue to operate in this way indefinitely.

To my knowledge, Karma has never advertised the acceptance of or solicited for donations. We are not a charity. That said, many of our members have strong connections and meaningful attachments to their co-op. Many of our founding members still shop at Karma. (For those newer members, that’s 45 years!) For many of us, Karma is more than its practical worth (i.e., the best place to shop!) — it is a place where important and meaningful interactions take place between our food, communities, and each other. It is a place we trust and that gives us a break from the rest of our busy worlds. It makes perfect sense to me that someone who adores their co-op and who is also in a position to do so would give to their co-op in this way. The spirit of the article was to present the option of donating and possibly to inspire other members. I hope, in saying this, I have clarified where Karma is at financially and the intent of the article. And I hope we continue have these important conversations. They are fundamental to the democratic process and transparency of our co-op.

Yours co-operatively,
Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

From the GM—September 2017

Dear Karma Members,

I hope you have all enjoyed the summer. Though summer is not technically over, gears start to shift as we all get back to the regular grind at work or school.  At the store, we start to see more faces and have more regular committee meetings which drive our vision and mission, and, of course, we see more fresh local produce coming through the doors. Fall is always an exciting time at Karma. I look forward to catching up with all of you and getting back to moving our co-op forward.  If you are interested in knowing more about how to get involved with your co-op, please feel free to contact me to discuss where we can best put your skills and energy to use.

We have brought some new and exciting products to the store this month which I hope you enjoy! As with all of the products we carry, we take time in selecting new products for our shelves to ensure we are offering members the best products available. Our purchasing decisions are guided by Karma’s Product Policy, a wonderful resource for our purchasing staff and members alike, created by our hardworking Food Issues Committee. If this is the first you’ve heard of this Karma trademark, you should definitely check it out!

Don’t forget, Karma has a wide selection of containers for those litterless lunches for back to school, as well as some tasty, healthy, and school-safe snack and meal options!

In late August we said goodbye to Sadie Goldstein. Though Sadie has left the Karma team, thankfully we know she will continue to be a regular working member and familiar face at the store. All the best to you and all that you take on Sadie. We will miss your thoughtful heart and positive spirit. You are a gem.

Cheyenne Spence was hired to take on Sadie’s responsibilities. Cheyenne is a keen locavore and urban farmer. We know she will be a great addition to the Karma team. Welcome Cheyenne!

Yours co-operatively,
Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org

From the GM — August 2017

Dear Karma Members,

We hope you are enjoying the summer! As people are enjoying vacations and cottages, things tend to slow down here at the store and we experience our usual summer sales slump. That said, we still have lots of exciting things happening around the store for those of you who are staycationing and enjoying the Toronto summer!

We have some great workshops this month, including a repeat of last month’s DIY Sunscreen (back by popular demand) and How to Home Brew! Also, the growing is in full swing, so we are fully stocked with the freshest local produce of the season.

Enjoy!
Yours co-operatively,

Talia McGuire
General Manager
Karma Co-op
manager@karmacoop.org