…from all of us at Newport Ave. Market in Bend and Oliver Lemon’s in Sisters & Terrebonne!
Our essential, front-line staff has been so busy selling groceries it’s been a while since we’ve been able to reach out and share what’s been happening. So, we wanted to cheer on our amazing Employee Owners, faithful customers, and friends, dispel some rumors, and generally check in with all of you.
No doubt you’ve seen, heard, and read, the supply chain in all sectors continues to be tough.
Tough…in the fact there simply aren’t enough truckers to move goods and services. Moving goods and services is what gets groceries to our shelves for you, whether it’s the farm in Terrebonne, the beverage distributor in Bend, the grocery warehouse in the valley, or the crafter in Colorado. You get the idea, just like you see how essential farmers are, our truckers are too, they get those important products to market.
Tough…the cost of packaging material, if you can even source it, both on the manufacture’s side and the retailer’s side. Things like deli packaging, grocery bags (Yes, we know the handles on our bags suck. At this point in the packaging world, we’re lucky to even have bags.), glass jars, and little things like the mechanism in a spray bottle are hard to come by and experiencing cost increases a few times a year.
Tough…water, a whole other great big tough issue. As our rivers and streams need water, our crops need irrigation as well. Farmers and ranchers are making tough decisions daily about their fields and livestock that impact the availability and costs on the shelves.
Tough…in there simply aren’t enough people walking into businesses to fill the many jobs that exist. We pride ourselves on being an above average, dare I say, good employer in Central Oregon for our Employee Owners. Being an ESOP means we share 100% of our profits with our Employee Owners. We hire well above minimum wage, provide company paid benefits, 401k, and living wages that afford our employees to live in Central Oregon, raise families, buy homes and cars, send kids to college…you get the idea.
All of these tough areas that we are experiencing impact COGs (cost of goods). COGS are what impact the final price on the shelf for you, our customer.
We are incredibly proud to be a part of Central Oregon and recognize that our Employees are the backbone of our stores and why we became a 100% ESOP in 2015. They have wonderful, long-term relationships with all of you. We’ve seen your families grow and grow up, kids that have started as Courtesy Clerks that go on to further their education and return to us as adults. We’ve hugged when we’ve seen the circle of life complete. Your family is ours and we are so fortunate that you trust us to nourish you with access to good food, all with friendly banter and quick smiles…even under our masks!
Masks and a continuing global pandemic, oh man! Frankly, our staff is maxed out. And yet, they show up for each other and for you, because if one thing has been proven it’s that working in a grocery store matters. We are essential and we are here for you. We didn’t have the luxury of working from home early on. We also recognize so many of our friends and local businesses have barely made it, continue to truly struggle, and others didn’t make it. We know we are fortunate, and that good fortune is due to the hard-working colleagues in our stores that have, and continue to, rise to the occasion of working in the service industry of grocery.
Despite ugly misstatements and generally misinformed accusations that have rattled around our community here and there in the last 18 months, we have and will continue to follow all state mandates, while also working with the county health department. We are not perfect but do the very best for our staff and our community. We do require masks in our stores, per the state mandate. We continue do our best to ask people to comply with signage and announcements. Our staff has been yelled at, confronted, referred to as Nazis, and threatened by open gun carrying individuals. We’ve hired security at great expense to protect our staff and minimize their stress. We ask that those who choose to shop with us simply wear a mask in our stores. Please folks, we didn’t enter this great profession expecting to wear Personal Protective Equipment (who knew we’d ever even come to know what PPE is?), unlike folks in the medical profession or emergency services and others. We are simply trying to focus on doing our best in an ever-changing regulatory environment during a global pandemic. Please, debate masks with somebody other than your local grocer and just mask up.
Thanks for bearing with me, this is a lengthy love note to our community…all of you that care for us as we care for you. I hope this finds you all happy and enjoying all the goodness Central Oregon has to offer while the sun shines bright. Most of all, I hope this finds you and yours healthy. As we have, we will continue to be here for you with a smile under our masks and good food to enjoy.
With deep love for Central Oregon,
Leader of the Pack (vrrrooom!)/CEO & President