From the GM—May 2020

Dear members,

Thank you to everyone for your support, gratitude, and concern during these unprecedented times. The staff and I are so grateful for all the kind words and acts of support you have extended to us. Most of all, we are grateful for all of your help in keeping our store a safe place to work and shop. Thank you, thank you, for helping us in our efforts. 

Sales continue to be up.  We’re doing our best to keep on top of orders, keeping the store stocked and pristine. We appreciate all of your understanding and flexibility as we adapt to our new situation. Thank you all, for your patience. 

Many of you have reached out to me personally to let me know how you find Karma a safe place to shop these days, commending us in our efforts. It gives me great pride to know that you place so much trust in us and it fulfills me greatly to be able to offer a safe place and great food to our community during this time. ???? 

You may have noticed some new faces at the store! Staffing has changed since the last time I wrote an update. In March, we said goodbye to Laura. We greatly miss Laura’s bubbly spirit and contagious laugh. Recently, Kevin moved on from Karma as well. Kevin has a wealth of knowledge about co-ops, politics and food (all the things we are passionate about at Karma). We miss chatting with him about our favourite topics! Thank you both for all your hard work and best of luck to you both. We miss you.

We’re happy to welcome Eden and Daniel to the Karma team! Eden comes to us with a BA in Environmental Studies.  She loves food and community, so Karma is a natural fit! Daniel is a Karma member in the midst of a PhD in microbiology. What store can say they have a microbiologist on their team? We feel pretty lucky to have his expertise right about now! Welcome Eden and Daniel! We are looking forward to working with you both. 

I’ll leave you with a highlight from my week. Earlier this week, I was thrilled to receive a note from my good friend Loretta McHenry at the London Food Co-op (LFC), who shared with me an article written about the LFC, their response to COVID, and their recent 50th birthday (Happy Birthday LFC!!! ????). While they are practicing social distancing, they are also practicing “distant dancing”. I think this is a great practice that we will have to implement and formalize at Karma, though some Karma members are already practicing this. With all the extra shopping space, some of you have been spotted getting down in the aisles. We want you to know that we fully support this. Staff may even join you! We encourage you to practice distant dancing anytime you are at the store and the feeling strikes. ???? Don’t be shy to get down! ????????????????

Speaking of birthdays, Karma will be 48 on May 16! Happy birthday Karma!!❤️️

Be well, stay safe, stay fed! 

Talia 

General Manager
Karma Co-operative 

“The Right Direction”: How the new mural came to be

By now you’re probably noticed the mural outside the store. If you don’t know how it happened to get there, you may have questions. Fortunately, Karma general manager Talia McGuire has answers.

It came about in an unlikely way—with some luck, some good timing, and some hard work, according to Talia. “This is how a lot of things happen at Karma…all of a sudden we have this amazing opportunity, and we need to take advantage of it,” Talia says.

The Laneway Project is a not-for-profit organization in the city that beautifies laneways, in part by matching artists with homeowners to paint their garages or laneway houses. Talia relates, “We’ve worked with them before, [and] they knew that we had this laneway wall that was the target of a lot of graffiti… And they approached me saying, ‘We have this amazing opportunity, do you want a mural for free?’ “

The mural is the culmination of two-week long engagement campaign with Scott Helman, a singer-songwriter in Toronto.

“[Scott] did this engagement campaign around climate change with his fans and the mural is the culmination of that project, to be the expression of his fans’ ideas and thoughts and emotions around climate change,” Talia says of the project that led to the mural’s creation.

Karma was approached to be the recipient of project’s mural on the specified days, but with little input as to its content and with quick approval from the board of directors. “We were sent an initial sketch and couldn’t really comment too much on the content of the sketch,” Talia continues. “It was cool to see it morph and change from what the original sketch was. [The artist, Kyla Buium, also known as Milkbox] came into Karma and was looking around, and thought it was so cool that we had a large focus on zero waste and allowing people to bring in their own containers. There are some things in the mural now that are Karma-inspired, that inspired the artist.”

The day was exciting, Talia recalls. “I don’t think I had any idea how famous Scott was, but… climate change is really important to him. I had no idea what the scope of the project was until they came and I started talking with Scott and the artist and his management team about what this really was.”

The painting was a two-day process, with the second including fans who were invited to sign the wall, and a live-feed filming the murals’ creation.  Environmental Defence joined as well, and Greenpeace mentioned Karma and the project on Twitter. Talia says, “[There was] lots of energy, lots of cameras… It was a really energetic day.”

The more Talia learned about the project, the more she realized it aligned with Karma’s ideals. “I thought it was so fitting for Karma. And Scott said, “I’m so happy we ended up painting your wall because there’s so much connection between the project and Karma and what you do.”

Moreover, it continues Karma’s work around community and environmental issues. “To be part of that movement, being able to showcase and amplify the voices of youth and their concerns around climate change…a lot of kids can’t vote and don’t have a voice, so it’s nice to be able to give them a platform.”

How has it been received? “It’s been really positive. Everyone is grateful first of all!” Talia enthuses, noting the wall’s graffiti made it sometimes not quite so picturesque. “It’s bright… There are some darker themes going on, but it’s a good conversation piece, and it’s a way to engage the larger community around climate change. And there’s some hope, and things that we can do to move things in the right direction. We’re not powerless.”

Submitted by Kyla Winchester

 

From the GM—February 2020

Happy February! The days are getting longer and brighter which means, soon, we will start seeing local greens and start reconnecting with many of our local farmers. 

Over the past couple of months, members of the board and I have been working hard! We’ve been busy building a robust health and safety policy, starting new committees (TBA!), reinvigorating old ones, and starting to think about Karma’s future. If you would like to be part of the magic that is moving Karma forward, please get in touch with either myself (manager@karmacoop.org) or the board (board@karmacoop.org)

I’ve been working with one of Karma’s members on updating Karma’s website. This much needed change will make our site more current and user friendly, as well as better feature our amazing content. And yes, the site will be mobile friendly. ???????????? Thank you to Neil Joyes for working long and hard on this project, which we hope to launch by the end of February. The update is long overdue. I hope you love the changes!

Many of you have been asking about when, and if, Karma will be getting tap on our debit terminals. I’m happy to announce that yes, we will. Very soon! Getting tap will make cashing out a little bit faster. You’re welcome!

You may have noticed a new face at Karma. Kevin Bowman is our newest addition to the Karma team. Kevin has a strong co-op background (currently sitting on the Guelph Campus Co-op board, as well as having established a co-operative board game cafe in Guelph), and he has experience with local and organic foods. Welcome Kevin!

In co-operation,

Talia McGuire
General Manager

From the GM—November 2019

We’re starting to gear up for the holiday season here at Karma, but don’t worry, you won’t even notice until December. ???? The first sign of the holidays for us is our annual shipment of Darn Tough socks, and yes, they have arrived and we will begin putting them out very soon! If you aren’t yet aware of these socks, check them out. They are amazing and make great gifts!  ????

The last couple of months have been big ones for Karma in terms of maintenance expenses. The drain saga of 2019 is one to go down into Karma’s history books. After careful investigative work and an initial dig in our members’ room, a major blockage was located in our neighbour’s front yard. The blockage has been removed and our store is now back to normal. Thank you for your patience as we underwent that work. I would like to say a big thank you to Yuill McGregor, Cathy Tafler, Chair of the Building Committee, her partner Doug Rylett, Mark Tholen, and Paul Dixon for all of their support, time, and expertise during this ordeal. I’d also like to say a big thank you to all the amazing Karma staff who took this big inconvenience in stride. I never heard a single complaint, and we were all able to approach it with a little humour. This made things bearable. Thanks you guys! 

We also just recently had our parking lot repaved. The lot was in a very bad state and was becoming dangerous for those using it. We are glad to have that repair completed. Thanks to Yuill McGregor and crew for working hard to get the lot repaved in the pouring rain. 

This month we will be rolling out the new process for taring container weights! We’re moving to a less wasteful process that won’t require you to print a label or juggle two four-digit numbers in your head! You’ll simply have to record your tare weight, fill up, and bring your filled jars to cash. This change will be happening soon, so stay tuned! 

I am happy to report the 2019 Annual General Meeting was a success. There was so much interest from members to be on the board of directors, that we actually voted! I am thrilled to welcome so many new faces to the board this year. Some have been Karma members for many years (some even with previous Karma board experience), and some are relatively new to the co-op. I am very much looking forward to working with you all in the coming year! 

In staff news, a new collective agreement was successfully negotiated for staff in September. Also, Robbie has been hired to take over the role of Member Records Secretary. Robbie comes to the role with experience as a Member Support Specialist at MEC. Congratulations on your new position at Karma, Robbie! You’ll be great! 

See you around the store!
Talia

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

From the GM—May 2019

Dear Karma Members,

Spring means new beginnings! At Karma, this has meant saying farewell to some familiar faces among the staff while saying hello to new ones.

After over 6 years as Karma’s Member Records Secretary, Kirsten Heyerdahl will be leaving her post to move to Japan with her family. We’ll miss you so much Kirsten but are so excited for you! Thank you for keeping all of our records super organized and for going over and above your regular duties when needed. You are one of the team! Best of luck to you and your family in Japan.

Last month we said goodbye to retail associate James Byrne, and this month, we’re also saying goodbye to Leah Klaassen who worked as a retail associate for the past 4 months. Leah is a recent graduate and has found work more related to her field of study. Good luck Leah! We know you’ll be up to big and interesting things!

New to the Karma team are Becky Armstrong, Courtney Den Elzen and Laura Squires! Courtney will be taking on the role of Member Records Secretary. Please be sure to give them a warm welcome when you see them around the store!

The Karma board of directors is also looking to recruit some new faces. Sitting on the board is one of the most meaningful and fulfilling way to contribute to your co-op where you also learn new skills. Please review the position posting if you are interested in contributing in this way.

In store news, we will soon have new scales at the registers which will be able to tare container weights. How will this affect the shopping experience at Karma? It will make it easier! With this new change, the only number you will need to note when buying bulk in your own containers is the tare weight. Weigh your empty container, note the weight on the jar or scrap paper, fill up, cash out. Easy! The days of struggling to remember four-digit codes and tare weights are gone, and, there’s no need to print those destined for landfill labels. Hooray!

I am thrilled to hear all of your positive feedback to email receipts! We’ll keep making changes like these so we can further reduce our waste as an organization and help you to reduce yours!

In co-operation,

Talia McGuire
General Manager

From the GM — March 2019

Dear Karma Members,

While this winter seems endless, spring is coming! We’ll be seeing the first of the spring produce soon enough! The staff, committees, and board of directors are all working hard on some exciting things! We are working on launching another social media campaign to attract more new folks to the store (please help us by sharing our posts!), we’ve expressed interest in a Community Waste Reduction grant for up to $25,000.00 through the City of Toronto, and we’re planning an exciting co-op focussed event in early July.

We are continuing to research more package-free items that also reflect our values of sustainable and just production. You can expect to see new and improved products and more and more options available minimally packaged or package free. The topic of waste reduction is becoming a regular part of our conversations with our suppliers. We’re working with some of our local brands to find ways to get their products package free. It is an ongoing conversation with lots of back and forth and experimenting! We are also figuring out ways to reduce the waste created by the store. It is very exciting!  

You may have noticed some new brands in our meat department. Just before the Christmas holidays, we were unexpectedly told by Fieldgate, our primary supplier of fresh meat, that they would no longer be supplying us because it was too costly for them to sell to us because of our small order sizes. We have succeeded in finding suitable replacements for many of our meat products, but some have been harder or more unpredictable to source on a regular basis. If you have any questions or suggestions about this, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

We look forward to seeing you around the store!  

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

From the GM—December 2018

Dear Karma Members,

It’s been a busy time at the store! We’re busy getting ready for the holidays which means getting in some amazing products for you to savour, share, and enjoy for yourself! The Darn Tough Socks are out in full force and the Stollen awaits you! Be sure to check out our holiday hours (below) as we will be open late over the Christmas weekend and open on New Year’s Eve. ????

You know we’ve got everything you need for your holiday entertaining needs, but Karma is also an amazing place to do your holiday gift shopping. We’ve got some amazing beauty care products that your loved ones are sure to enjoy; plenty of accessories and package free gift options for the zero-waster on your list; and of course, an array of delicious edibles for the foodies. We also have gift certificates for the Karma curious on your list! When in doubt, gift your love for your co-op! ❤️

In addition to the holiday excitement, we’ve had some exciting developments in our ever expanding bulk selection. Shea and cocoa butter, Anarres face masks and tub truffles, Alchemy Pickle sauerkraut and kimchi, coconut aminos, and frozen local organic berries and peaches can now all be found in bulk! We also now carry Prairie Boy and Spent Goods bread package free! If there’s something you want to see in our bulk and package free section, let us know! We’re always looking for suggestions. We hope you enjoy!!!

Yours co-operatively,

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

Holiday Hours
Saturday, December 22 — 9 am – 9 pm
Sunday, December 23 — 9 am – 9 pm
Monday, December 24 — CLOSED
Tuesday, December 25 — CLOSED
Wednesday, December 26 — CLOSED
Thursday, December 27 to Sunday, December 30 — regular hours
Monday, December 31 — 9 am – 7 pm
Tuesday, January 1 — CLOSED

From the GM—September 2018

Dear Karma Members,

It’s September! Another summer has flown by. I was rather shocked and not quite ready to see the pumpkins that Tony Neale delivered two weeks ago. “These can’t be real pumpkins… It’s too early,” I thought. But no, the pumpkins are very real and, presumably, delicious. I say presumably because, despite being very fond of pumpkin, I haven’t yet purchased one. Doing so would only actualize the end of summer for me, and I’m just not ready. I’m just not. I don’t often feel that way about the changing of the seasons, and perhaps it’s because so many exciting things that I am proud of happened over the summer months that I’m feeling reluctant to let go.

This summer my long-time dream of new bulk bins was realized; we worked and continue to work hard at increasing Karma’s package free and zero-waste product offerings; we got some great press; I also celebrated my son’s 4th birthday ????. My biggest sense of accomplishment though has come from the membership. Hearing all of your kind words of support and love for the changes have been so meaningful to me. I know I am doing my job and have made the right choices when I hear how happy you all are with what is happening around our store. Nothing makes me happier. Thank you everyone for your support in making these changes a reality. They wouldn’t have been possible without all of you!

I hope you have all had a chance to see the brand new beautiful sign that was mounted at the Follis entrance of Karma Lane. The sign was made possible thanks to two dedicated members who generously donated money for the cause and to a member who kindly gave us permission to mount the sign to their fence. Thank you! I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out and hope this will bring more walk-by traffic and awareness to our store.

On another note, it has come to my attention that some members thought Karma no longer stocked toilet paper. Rest assured, we do! We have simply moved the product to a nearby shelf to make room for… you guessed it… MORE BULK! ????

Yours co-operatively,

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

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