In exactly 13 days, 2017 will be over. What a year it was! The first month was quite eventful; in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, we came to the decision to close our doors on January 20th in silent protest of Inauguration Day. We have always been proud to serve our community 363 days a year; our open hours are very precious to us and we did not make this choice lightly. It was important for us to resist the inauguration of someone so diametrically opposed to our values as a business and as individuals, and to take a stand for the ideals we hold dear. Considering the events of this year so far, we do not regret our difficult decision, and we continue to resist. See Steve interviewed for NBC News here.
Also in January, we were very proud to create the 2017 Charitable Giving Initiative. Tulasi and Layla carefully crafted a list of local and national organizations that work on behalf of policy positions and individuals made most vulnerable by the present administration.
Every month, we ask our customers to support an organization by rounding up their change at the register or dropping some coins in our donation box. We match 100% of these donations. For a full list of the charities we chose for 2017, as well as more information about the Initiative, see here.
Longtime owner Shanta was very busy in the beginning of the year doing book readings and giving talks on her amazing book about the history of the People’s Food System in the Bay Area and the cooperative movement titled Other Avenues Are Possible. We were even lucky enough to host one of her book readings at a recent board meeting. Just last month, Shanta released a companion book to Other Avenues, entitled Cooking Together: A Vegetarian Co-op Cookbook.
Jeremy, in between raising his two daughters and working at OA, performed his solo show Keeping Up with the Jorgensons at the Yes to Everything Festival and The San Francisco Fringe Festival to rave reviews and where he won the Best of the Fringe Award. Look out for him performing his show at the Marsh in San Francisco, Februrary 28th at 7:30pm.
In March we celebrated Pi Day for the first time! Annie lovingly packed up individual slices we sold for $3.14. We also brought in a variety of new and unique pie flavors. After a wild success, we look forward to hosting Pi Day again next year.
In May, district supervisor Katy Tang paid us a visit, along with several members of our community. Layla led them through a world-class tour of our store, explaining why we choose to sell what we sell, and showcasing the rich history of our little store.
We invest a lot of energy, time and love into putting the very best brands and products on our shelves. Sometimes that even involves going abroad to learn as much as we can about the natural foods that we sell and the business we run.
In June, Natalia got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pilot test a study abroad program, where she learned about organic coffee farming and cooperative business management from the Maya Lacandona people in Chiapas, Mexico.
In August, Chris went on an eight-day-long trek through the vineyards and wineries of Spain. Working around the clock, he sampled his way to a deeper understanding of this ancient craft, using his improved palate to bring the most delectable libations to our wine rack.
Finally, in October, we sent two members of team Vitamins, Alex and Natalia, to Portland, Oregon, to attend Expo NorthWest, where they learned all about the magic and science of colloidal silver, and the holistically healing world of herbs.
We also travelled quite a bit independently. We pride ourselves on the benefits and privileges that we offer one another as worker-owners to empower ourselves to lead full lives. One we all take advantage of is our generous allotment of vacation hours. This year, Tiff went to Thailand, Chris went to Japan, Lluis travelled to Florida, Luke went to the Yuba River twice and saw an unforgettable meteor shower, Layla found herself in Maine and Joshua Tree, Nick visited Washington, Enrique travelled to NYC and Annie went to Hollywood for the first time.
Kendon began a barbering program earlier this year and he currently is top of his class! Throughout the year he’s treated many of us fellow workers, as well as some lucky customers and thousands of other guests to unique and stylish cuts.
Emily hosted two sauerkraut workshops in August, one at our very own Other Avenues and another at Golden Gate Park CommUNITY Garden. Many stinkingly delicious krauts were served and students left with the knowledge to go forth and make their own ferments. Stay tuned for a kombucha workshop coming this January!
Sarah has been busy creating beauty as an owner of OA, but also as the co-owner of Sand Shed, a local vintage boutique. They opened up shop earlier this year, right up the street, alongside Outer Sunset staple Avenues Dry Goods.
We’ve continued to work on our little store and invest in its growth. David is particularly proud of the shiny new Metro shelves and pegboards in our chips aisle. Our powerful promo team has decorated the city with our brand new one-of-a-kind logo, from local artist Candi Kinyobi. Be on the lookout for bus ads and billboards all over town.
With all the excitement and business growth our end of the year was met with tremendous loss when two longtime owners of Other Avenues, Wayne Landers and JB Rumburg passed away within two weeks of one another. Their commitment to the store, the co-op movement and their community will greatly be missed. They were both spirited people, filled with humor and passion. Our love and good thoughts go out to their family and friends. OA will place two plaques on our parklet to honor Wayne and JB in the coming weeks. They both fought hard and garnered community support to see the parklet come to fruition. Watch for news of a plaque unveiling ceremony coming in Feb 2018.
After the passing of our friends and colleagues, we have each taken some time to think on our lives and our futures. As Darryl reflects, “I’ve been writing a little and looking back on my own life to document things for my daughter that she might find of interest about her Ba… In the end, the human spirit prevails and we make choices that best work for ourselves while trying to maintain personal integrity. Despite the current state of this country, I am optimistic about 2018 and the future.”
We all faced many hardships this year, but we have a lot to be thankful for. We are thankful for friends, family, our business, and the customers we see everyday that support this little store by the sea. It is because of you that we are able to survive as a business. We are thankful for our community as we go through each day, good or bad, together. Here’s to a brighter and joyful 2018.
Written cooperatively by collective members Jeremy, Alex, Darryl, Emily and Natalia.