Ahren’s Updates: 2023

ahren grunow cook county coop manager


Ahren: January 2023

Hello friends of the Co-op!

Our number one priority for the store is to take care of the customers – from purchasing products, to trying out new ways to give owners the best deals, to providing a safe environment, we do it all with you in mind. I definitely want to acknowledge that the impacts of our slowing economy and rising prices are challenging, but won’t prevent us from keeping you as top priority. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index, at home food costs have increased by almost 12% over the last year and continue to increase due to inflation. We are doing everything we can to source products that continue to meet the quality and value standards of you and the Co-op.

If a specific product gets too expensive, our team of managers and buyers work to find a comparable item with the same quality but with a lower price tag. (As my friendly reminder and plug for sustainability, you can always save by buying in bulk or special ordering.) Even as our team works hard at finding new items, and keeping costs as low as possible, the rural grocery industry also experiences the hardships of our economy. Our distributors, which are limited at times due to our Up North location, continue to run into supply issues which tends to lead to a greater level of out-of- stocks.

Regardless of challenges, we work hard to make sure we have products on our shelves that fit your needs. If you think something should be on our shelves that’s not, we welcome feedback through comment cards, by talking to us in-store, or via email. Please feel free to email me directly at gm@cookcounty.coop. Chances are that we can find a product that you’re looking for.

Each year offers plenty of curveballs and changes but we are excited to always keep growing, finding new ways to stay innovative, and stay committed to our community-focused values.


December 2022

Hello Co-op Friends!
As I mentioned last month, one of my goals is to create more opportunities to interact with all of you. I will cover various topics like what it means to be a co-op and a co-op owner, as well as the impacts we all can make together. I decided to start by answering some of our most frequently asked questions (FAQs). Some of them may seem basic but we try our best to keep a beginner’s mind, and our board and staff routinely revisit our ends and core values.

What’s the difference between a food cooperative and a “regular” grocery store?
There are many things that differentiate food cooperatives from a typical grocery store. Co-ops are owned by the people who shop there and use its services. Ownership is rooted in community, and as a Co-op we are able to respond and focus our efforts on local needs. We focus on sourcing products that are: healthy, natural or organic, ethically raised, and sustainably harvested. We prioritize working with as many local farmers, vendors, and distributors as possible. We also prioritize taking care of our staff by providing competitive wages, health insurance, and an environment that promotes growth and support.

Can anyone shop at the Co-op?
Yes! Everyone is welcome to shop at the Co-op. You do not need to be an owner. We strive to be inclusive, safe, and free of discrimination for all.

Why are prices at the Co-op higher than other grocery stores?
The majority of our products are made using the best ingredients available (even in the “junk food”). Organic crops take greater effort since they don’t use dangerous or hazardous chemicals during the growing process. Meat and seafood products are raised using ethical and sustainable methods, all of which take more time to raise. Grass-fed cattle take roughly 30% longer to raise than grain-fed cattle, but can be raised using sound regenerative agriculture methods that help the planet. More time equals more money, which is why our prices are sometimes higher than conventional grocery stores.

More to come on pricing in January. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or suggestions.

Thanks for reading, and here’s wishing you a great holiday season!

November 2022

Co-op Shop Talk with Ahren, General Manager

Hello Co-op Friends!

One of my goals for the Co-op is to increase communication with you in a variety of different ways. I hope to bridge gaps where our owners and community feel we need more – or different – ways of connecting.

One considerate owner emphasized the importance of creating these opportunities to remind us all what a cooperative is all about, the benefits of ownership and shopping at a co-op, and how together, we make positive impacts locally. I’ll share more on this next month.

I want to thank those who’ve met with me about how to reach more people and why it’s vital. Your feedback is both appreciated, important, and helps us move forward collectively. Going forward our emails will be posted on the bulletin board by the cafe microwave and my updates will also be posted on our website. Please keep the feedback coming and be sure to grab a 21-22 Annual Report the next time you shop!