Tuesday November 13, 2001
7 pm, Huether Hotel Board Room
Attendees: Karin Kliewer, Sarah Anderson, Steve Ohi, Andrew Barker, Kathy Mortimer, Greg Roberts, Kay Biefer, Siobhan Hughes, Stephanie Purnell, Steve Izma and daughters, Karina Gregory, Ashok Thirumurthi, Tim Sommerfeld, Shannon Fransen, Ayal Dinner, Maria Hatzipantelis, Mark Wotton
Handouts: Agenda, Financial Report for 2000, Maria's Report
Called to order: 7:10 pm
We went around the table introducing ourselves, with the question, "Is there anything Ebytown introduced to you that is now a regular part of your life?" (i.e. a product, idea)
The last GM was held in April 2001, but this is the first AGM of the year, because we had more than enough members this time to meet the quorum defined in the Co-op's Constitution (at least 15 members need to attend in order to call it an Annual General meeting). At the last GM members decided to make the store hours consistent, on Wednesdays and Saturdays-- we have been having trouble just filling these two shifts, and this will be a big priority for everyone in the upcoming months.
The member database was lost, so that we lost track of most members' addresses and contact information, but this is now being re-collected. With member contact info, it is much easier to fill shifts, train new members, etc.
There has been a big turnover in board members recently, but the board is now active and membership is putting much more energy and organization into the co-op. Procedures are being written up, for example the new policy on changing the combination lock annually was explained. The combination to the store key will be changed every January 1, to ensure that only current members know the combo, and are familiar with other policies in the store. The combo is required if members do after-hours shopping.
One member asked if we should do something about the windows, as this has been a security issue in the past. Closing windows and other shift-end tasks can be posted more prominently, to remind members about these tasks. This will be addressed at the next board meeting.
Andrew took over the Finance portfolio in July 2001, and wasn't involved in the record keeping in 2000. The Financial Report presented was for the calendar year 2000. (See attached financial report). Andrew noted that much of the administrative data was lost in 2001, such as member data, fees. The problems that have been encountered with this data are being addressed. We will not try to seek retroactive payments, but will be more vigilant on this issue in 2002.
In 2000, there was $37,000 in sales at the co-op. The store lost money (-$946.27), as it is in 2001. Typically food spoilage and member discounts account for the low or negative earnings of the co-op. The membership fee that was implemented last year ($50 loan plus $30/$15 annual fee, payable in 3 installments) was supposed to improve the financial performance of the store, however, due to the problems mentioned above, it wasn't clear if the loan and annual fees were being collected properly from all members.
Several questions for clarification were raised, for example the telephone bill seemed a bit high (it was $849 but should perhaps be more in the range of $600). Andrew will follow-up on this issue. The software used for the store was discussed. Although the current software is very tailored to the store, and manages all aspects of the co-op, including membership, purchasing and communications, when it is broken, there are few people who can fix it. We are still looking into alternatives and will decide in the near future if we will switch to another software for the upcoming year. If a switch were made, there would have to be some work into making the old data still available in the new system. We are also looking into having different levels of passwords for different information, such as member data.
The question of the high cost of joining Ebytown was raised ($50 loan plus $30 member fee) and the board reiterated that the loan is optional, the member fee is $15 for unwaged, and the board has discretionary power to waive a member's fees.
We have noted that current store keepers may need retraining, as several procedures have changed, and some items are not being done properly, such as Barter dollar sales, after-hours sales and pre-orders. Also, the co-co system is really good and should be reactivated.
The portfolio of store manager is currently open. The current fee structure will be maintained for the next year before evaluating it. Members require more information about the fee structure, and how it is charged. The board will look into this.
Store hours are Wednesday 5-8pm and Saturday 11am -2pm. We need to do more training, and have more people who can work shifts.
Two board member positions need to be filled: Store Manager and Member Relations. Kathy is willing to switch the purchasing portfolio for member relations.
Other openings for members are Purchasing, and co-co's. Members interested in the Grant Committee are also sought after.
Last fall it was decided that Ebytown should proceed with plans to hire a Co-op developer, who would act as manager/promoter of Ebytown/outreach. This was one of the reasons for implementing the annual member fee. Sarah and Karin are now looking into grants/loans. In order to apply for most available monies, Ebytown must have a business plan and an audit of its finances. We also need a member committee to help out with the planning for this important activity.
The People's Car Co-op was very successful in gaining funding, and the brains behind that work are also willing to consult with the Ebytown committee on grant research. Trillium is one potential sponsor.
A Food Buying Club has started at the Working Centre in Kitchener. Communication with this group would be worthwhile, as they seem to share similar goals and values. However, co-operation with this group on any scale will require an active membership role, as the Board is already very busy with its tasks.
Maria presented her thesis proposal, as outlined in her handout.
Big prizes were won! Three lucky people went home with hot chocolate, tea or a book (Real Food).
How did people like the location for this meeting? It was free (compared to any City rooms), and central, on a major bus route. Children were welcome to stay. Sometimes meetings are held in Kitchener, and sometimes they are potlucks.
December 1: Ebytown celebrates 30 years of operation. Drop in for a wine & cheese during regular opening hours. If anyone has photos of past Ebytown events, or other memorabilia, please bring them along.
Best way to reach the board is to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Next AGM will be April 2002. See you then!