At the first meeting on May 22 in Town Hall, about 75 people joined us to learn about food and craft coop in Ohio called Local Roots and to generate a list of questions to be answered at the next meeting. About forty people attended the follow-up meeting on May 29 to form teams to work on different tasks.
Jessica Eikleberry, former Market Manager and still on the staff of Local Roots, and three producer members of the cooperative, shared stories and perspectives to give us a deeper understanding of how the market works. Here are some of the questions and answers:
- Did you consider what if any Fair Trade items to include (non-local, such as chocolate & coffee?)
We recently (this year) added some fair trade items to the market. We (Local Roots) buys and resells at an approximately 35% mark up. We do this to round out the product selection and be more of a one stop shop for customers.
- How do you organize volunteers? How many do you have? What sort of business hours coverage do you fill with this help? How do you train them?
Our market manager does the organizing and training according to the needs of the market. We found it is best to have recurring volunteers who have “jobs” that they are trained to do (be it cash register, cleaning, inventory, etc) who come at regular times. We usually (try to) always have 1-2 in the market with the manager at all times to do the normal business or running the market (like cash register or setting up displays) under the direction of the manager which frees the manager up to do things like: talk with customers, producers, email, train new volunteers, etc. We have about 130 hours a month for these sort of activities.
Volunteers also do things like our newsletter, and all board members volunteer for projects as well (and sometimes recruit their own volunteers).
- Do you, and if so how do you recruit volunteers? How do you assign them to tasks? How do you coordinate and schedule volunteers? Do you find you have times when volunteers aren’t available, or when you have too many?
We post needs in our newsletters and mass emails. Many people actually come to us looking for opportunities. We have found it is best to talk to the person first to see what their interest and needs are then try to match it with a “job”.
- What is the maximum time a volunteer puts in? Pull-time, part-time? Minimum hours requested of volunteers?
It is 10 hrs/year to pay for your membership. A few producers put in the minimum so they can sell with us. Most people who volunteer do much more! It is about being involved, not the hours. We have several people who come 3 or so hours each week.
- Are volunteers responsible for quality control? If not, who is?
The manager ultimately is responsible for what goes on in the market
- Do you have a customer request box?
Yes, we have had customer request sheets, comment cards, etc. We had a little trouble with customer requests because sometimes they would request things that were not legal (raw milk) or were not local, etc and then would be peeved that we did not come through!
Another question that came up during our Town Hall meetings was “won’t All Things Local hurt sales at the downtown Saturday market during the summer?” We have posted some thoughts and suggestions for your consideration here.
In addition to answering these questions, Jessica sent us background information on their management policies. We’ve included these below:
- Information on membership in Local Roots
- Local Roots bylaws
- Guidelines and policies for producers
- Rules for selling in the market
- Guidelines for rental of market space
- Legal compliance by product
- General guidelines on how to choose products for the market
If you are willing to review any of these documents and tell us what you like about them and what you don’t, or have any questions or suggestions please either post your thought below of send send them to
Thank you for your continued interest in the creation of All Things Local in Amherst!