Co-op Store Clerk | ISEEK

Uploaded by iseekvideouploads on 28.07.2011

By far my favorite thing about this job is the fact I’m actual friends with the customers who come in.
It is not just and in and out sort of retail transaction, these are people that I know really well and
they come in with a concern for their health and the health of their families.
Knowing most of the customers is just like helping a friend make a good decision and that’s a pretty cool thing to get paid to do.
My name is Steven McKnight; I’m a store clerk and cashier the Crow Wing Food Co-op in Brainerd, Minnesota.
A small part of my job is the actual retail responsibility of running a cash register,
stocking product and making sure that all of our produce is fresh.
The bulk of my day is spent in a constant dialogue with our customers about not only their dietary needs,
but sort of ethical framework in which they make decisions about what food they eat. And each of our customers has a different focus.
For some people the focus is organic food, for some it is local food, for some it is non-gmo, raw food, vegan food.
Typical day for me at the co-op involves coming and talking to the managers about what’s been going on that day,
about what orders we’ve gotten in, what needs to be done. I spend most of my day talking to customers and helping them out.
Then at the end of the night cleaning the store and getting everything setup so that the morning shift can come in and do what they need to do.
I moved to Brainerd from Nashville, Tennessee about five years ago.
My interest in organic and local food primarily was an interest in my own personal health and in studying how to make healthier choices;
I started to learn a lot about the environmental impact of how I was eating, social implications of a big industrialized food system.
And that lead me to the co-op. As far as, how I actually started working at the Crow Wing Food Co-op, basically through Facebook.
That was the first time I used a networking tool like that. I knew the people who worked there and just sort of asked them if they needed help.
Most of my education in the natural health field has been independent study. I’ve had much informal training on the job.
Our customers educate me and ask me questions which I then sort of have to research.
So, my self-education has been very important in having this job.
Pretty standard retail tools, cash register, barcode scanner and a digital scale.
Social networking, we operate Twitter, Facebook. We have an e-mail list for our members that’s how we keep them in the loop
about specials and sales and board meetings and any co-op news.
Being a small co-op in a small town, it is very easy to reduce our carbon footprint. I personally walk to work every day.
We have a bike that we use for just errands around town.
At the co-op during the summer we get a large percentage of our produce from local farmers.
When you sign up for a membership at the co-op, the first thing we give you is a reusable bag.
We have moved away completely from plastic bags in our store.
We use paper if necessary but we encourage everybody to bring their own reusable bags.
And we sell a lot of items in bulk so that you can bring in your own plastic containers and fill them up which reduces plastic packaging.
The produce waste, which every grocery store has and typically goes in the trash, becomes compost at the co-op.
A lot of it actually goes to feed the chickens who lay the eggs that we sell at the co-op.
So, it is a very close feedback loop between us and our vendors.
Common misconception about this job is that the customer base,
what people perceive the type of person who would shop at the co-op to be
is a very broad section of just common people that come in and shop.
Mothers who are concerned about the school lunches that their children are eating to
young people who are wanting to take control of their health.
Another big misconception is the price of food. Traditionally, it has been a lot higher for organic foods but as the market is sort of
exploding as it has in the last ten years to unprecedented levels, that competition between companies has created much lower prices.
Go into your local co-op, start a conversation with the people that are working there about
membership and the structure of the co-operative, what their focuses are as a co-op.
Offer to volunteer, get the feel for how it works and I guarantee you will find some fascinating interactions with people.