Staff Task Force Looks to Increase and Promote Minority Vendors

Jess Vorse, for the Shuttle

In our country’s current state of unrest there is a nationwide call for white people to do more; to be more actively anti-racist, to use our historically privileged voices to re-distribute power with the goal of creating a more equitable society.

How does Weavers Way fit into this equation? How are we using our platform to generate positive change? As a young cashier, I was brainstorming with co-workers about what the Co-op could do to lift up the voices of the Black community. What started as a simple idea to create a display of Black-owned products quickly snowballed into a much larger undertaking. This is because the Co-op does not have demographic information for any of our vendors and is thus unable to create a display highlighting any minority group. Immediately, it was decided that this needed to change.

Over the past few weeks, a task force has been created to begin collecting this demographic information for all of our vendors. The group consists of four employees: Alexandra Feagans, Christopher Feagans, and myself from our Chestnut Hill store, and Mira Kilpatrick, floral buyer for our Ambler store. Our primary goal is to establish a baseline of the ownership of our current vendors. Once this is established, we will use the data to grow the number of vendors owned by people of color, women and LGBTQUIA individuals, and to generate new marketing campaigns centered on raising customer awareness of minority-owned products.

In collaboration with administrative staff, it was decided that a survey would be the most effective way to collect the information we need. It will disclose the type of business, the owners and percentages of the ownership (private, public, cooperative etc.) Of course, vendors will have the option not to share information with us or to request we do not share certain information with customers. The whole process will be based on voluntary vendor responses and full consent for marketing campaigns.

As we receive responses, the data will be compiled, organized and interpreted by the task force and then distributed to administrators and buyers in order to accomplish the two goals outlined above. We have set ourselves the optimistic deadline of summer’s end for the completion of this project so that we can make information available to customers in the fall. However, the deadline will be dependent on the speed and volume of responses we receive.

This project is only a first step in the Co-op’s efforts to be continually and authentically anti-racist. With over 10,000 members, it is our responsibility to use our platform to create a more equitable society. We are incredibly excited about what this work will do for our community.