Pictures. Politics. Stories. Standards. For PCC Natural Markets, transparency permeates this cooperative’s culture to the core.
The retailer’s CEO, Tracy Wolpert, said it succinctly in PCC’s 2011 annual report: “Our co-op isn’t just a business; we’re a community of individuals who believe PCC exists to be more than profitable.”
Existing for more than profit means challenging and championing food standards, leading in the community and serving as a trusted source of information.
PCC has long exhibited these values but is doing so perhaps more than ever before this year. The cooperative is a leader in Washington state’s Initiative 522, a legislative effort to require GMO labeling. Trudy Bialic, director of public affairs at PCC, helped craft the legislation; and the cooperative put $100,000 toward the petition drive.
“One co-op principal is educating and working in your community,” says Roxanne Green, HBC coordinator at PCC and the Natural Products Association’s president-elect. “This is one of the ways we can do that.”
PCC also works to support local, sustainable agriculture by connecting cooperative members and shoppers to farmers. PCC staff visit producers not only to uphold the cooperative’s high standards but also to get their stories, which the retailer shares in advertising, newsletters, social media and signage. In addition, many producers make in-store appearances.
The efforts connect people, personality and product, and help fuel sales, says Green. PCC’s members and customers now ask for Nash Huber’s produce, LaPierre blueberries and Apple’s apples, among others.
“Food and cosmetics are very personal,” Green says. “When you have a tie into the original source, you have a better connection, you trust things more.”