A New Day

It's June, the Strawberry Moon. The first full moon in June will be here Friday. Many of us in the area wait to put our more delicate plants in our gardens until this week. The leaves have come out and we have had our first hot days to remind us what the coming months will feel like. 

It is so nice to see faces we have not seen since last summer. We know that coming into our stores is a little bit different this year. Our state continues to open up with the safety of all as the number one priority, and we mirror this priority. We continue to require face masks while inside the stores. Thank you for remembering this when you come to shop with us. We are also continuing to monitor the number of customers in our stores and will let you know if you need to wait outside for a few moments. We know this all takes a little getting used to and we thank you for your patience and understanding. 

Today our customer service looks a little different, too. We have a night crew stocking the store after hours so that more of you can be in shopping during the day and still be able to maintain social distance. Know that we are still here working hard to serve you, it's just that our service has shifted to fit into the world we find ourselves in today. You will meet our door greeters who are there to inform you of anything you need to know to make sure your shopping experience is a safe one. As always, your favorite cashiers are here and ready to process your order. As is the case with so many things, customer service is still very important to us—it just looks a little different today. 

We are so close to being able to share our new online curbside platform with you. We have been testing this program over the last few weeks. Thank you to all that have tested this program with us. Your patience as we ironed out the best path forward has been wonderful. Look for a reveal in the very near future! 

Though our world is a fractured one, we continue to see a current of hope running throughout. Community has never been more important than it is today and we thank you for being a part of the Grain Train community. We also thank you for allowing us to be a part of yours. We are getting through these times together, one step at a time. Keep on taking care of one another and we will see you in the stores.

June 02, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

Looking Forward

We look forward to saying hello to all of our downtown neighbors as they reopen their restaurants, bars, and stores this holiday weekend! As an essential business that has remained open during the duration of the pandemic, we know how much thought and intention each one of our neighbors will put into ensuring their business is safe for staff and customers alike. We hope you will extend the same courtesy and patience to each of them as you have to us. It’s been a couple of months since we have had significant traffic in our downtowns, and this weekend is likely to have some learning curves for us all.

How does this holiday weekend look for us at the Grain Train? We are open all weekend so stop by and see us! To give our staff a much deserved break on Memorial Day, however, we will be taking the day off and both stores will be closed on Monday, May 25. We'll be back open at 8 AM in Petoskey and 9 AM in Boyne City on Tuesday, May 26.

 

As you see, both Petoskey and Boyne City have new expanded hours. Boyne City has added from 9-10 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a senior and immune compromised shopping hour. Petoskey will continue to offer an hour each day, 8-9 AM, to these customers.

We are excited that we now have a third register safety open at the Petoskey store. We are working on permanent plexiglass at the registers as we do not see this precaution as something that will go away anytime soon. We are also keeping in place our sanitization efforts and will continue to have a door greeter monitoring the number of customers in the store. We are committed to being a safe place for our customers and staff for the long run. Per the Governor's order, we continue to require that face masks be worn when inside our stores. We know that these practices ask all of us to slow down and be mindful of one another, and we thank you for doing this. It is how we each care for each other.

With restaurants opening this weekend, you are likely wondering about the Market Cafe. Currently, we are in a wait-and-see mode and have no plans to open the Cafe this Friday in relation to the Governor's reopening plan. We will keep you updated as we have more information about the Cafe.

We look forward to seeing you and hope we all continue to support one another in a way that keeps our communities safe. We hope you enjoy this holiday weekend. Here are some tasty Memorial Day recipes to get your mouth watering and your shopping list prepared! This weekend, and always, we give thanks to those who have given their lives while protecting our country.

See you at the stores! 

May 20, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

THE LONG RUN

It feels so good to be into a new month. One with flowers blooming, wild leeks galore, trilliums just peeking out to say hello and, dare we hope, morel mushrooms coming in abundance. As summer gets closer, it seems like there is a quiver of excitement growing in all of us to get out of our houses and reconnect with life. We are finding our way with social distancing and mask-wearing—all of it becoming a part of the norm as much as it can be. We are all moving forward despite not knowing what is coming next.

We are seeing some of our summer customers returning at the same time as more businesses are opening up with precautionary measures in place for the safety of their staff and customers alike. At the Grain Train, we are making sure that when you come into our stores, safety is still the number one priority. We continue to ask you to remember that wearing your face mask while in the store and waiting as we keep our customer counts to a number that allows for social distancing, is an act of kindness for the whole community. We know that upholding a limit on the number of customers in the store slows things down and that this will become even more apparent as summer gets closer. We are working every day to find a safe way to open another register and other measures that can help the flow of customers in the Petoskey store. We are also working to supply more Grab and Go meal options in the Deli.

One thing that has been a guiding factor for us at the Grain Train is that we are in this for the long run. Next year will be our 50th year as a Natural Foods Cooperative. Everything we are doing today is for the safety of our staff, customers, and the future of the Grain Train. We have heard many thanks for our proactive measures during this pandemic. Those are going to be around as long as they are necessary and many will become a part of the future.

Currently, we are hard at work on developing a curbside program in Petoskey that, again, is focused on the long run. When we roll it out, we want to make sure that it is ready to meet your needs. The work we have put into this program is to not only help with social distancing and to keep our staff and customers safe, but it is also for our customers of the future. We know that time will always be important to you and with this service we hope we put a little more time on your clocks as we shop for you. We can’t wait to announce this program! Thank you for your patience in its development.

Things might be different, hard and uncertain, but we are finding our way right along with you and we will continue to be your community-owned grocery store. See you at the stores! 

 

May 06, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

MAY DAY

This Friday, May 1st, is halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. For some, this day is known as May Day or Beltane and is celebrated by leaving flowers on their neighbors' doors and other activities to welcome the season. Right now the weather and seasons parallel life. As we waiver between the cool days of early spring and the warm days of summer, we are also navigating our way between the uncertainties of this pandemic and finding a new normal.

Summer is coming and how that plays out for us here in Northern Michigan is still unknown. What we do know is that we are going to be here for you with the foods you depend on us for. We continue to have a full Grab and Go case at the Petoskey store for those of you who are looking for heat and eat options. We also continue to offer packaged hot soup daily at the Petoskey store and also have our Grab and Go and Freezer sections stocked with soup to-go from the Deli. We continue to receive regular shipments and we are taking extra measures to have the rice, broth, and flour you need. With the local growing season kicking off, you will start to see expanded local offerings as they become available. 

We are and will continue to take social distancing and sanitization very seriously. A mask is required while inside our stores for the safety of all and per our governor’s order. Thank you for waiting outside when we are at capacity inside. We will be at the door letting you know if we need you to wait a few minutes until others have left. It is a gift you give to our staff and each other when you wait outside 6-feet apart. We know that all of this takes time and that a quick trip into the store isn’t what it once was, but we are all finding our way. We still have senior and immune-compromised hours from 9-10 AM daily and, if you are looking for a less congested time to shop, 6-8 PM might be something to consider. 

Thank you for your patronage and the kind words of support of our team that you have been sharing with us. It might be fun on Friday to decorate your windows with flowers to say Happy May Day to your friends and neighbors. Or maybe a day out in the garden or the yard is just what you need to welcome a new month. We will be here with open doors should you be coming to see us. As always, it is an honor to serve you and we look forward to your next visit. 

April 29, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

EARTH DAY

April 22nd is the 50th Celebration of Earth Day. We always think of this as a good time to reflect on the ways that we try to be stewards of the earth in our day-to-day practices. This Earth Day, we are thinking even more globally as so many of us live an increasing local life in the present moment. These are unprecedented times and while we look at the ways we care for the planet in our daily business life, it is hard not to consider the bigger picture.

Around the globe we are paused. We continue to hear about a mountain range or skyline that has come back into view as emissions are reduced as a result of our global sheltering in place. This COVID-19 virus is not something we would ever choose and we certainly do not welcome nor celebrate it. The lives being lost and the trauma endured are real and devastating. Yet, there are some moments of calm in the pause for us as individuals and for the entire planet as well. As we start to think about what life is going to look like as we ease back into whatever our new normal is, the thought of how we can take anything learned from this pause into the future sits with many of us. 

Though this week has been a chilly one here in northern Michigan, we know that getting your hands in the earth is on a lot of your minds. Bear Creek Organic Farm’s Annual Plant Sale will happen in May with social distancing in the forefront. They, and many of our other local farmers, hardware, and feed stores have what you need to get your soil ready in the meantime. We thought you might like this article, All About Soil, to give you some ideas. After all, Earth Day starts at home

Waste is another thing that comes to mind when we reflect on Earth Day. Waste is one that we think about everyday in all we do. We are so lucky to be located in Emmet county, home of Emmet County Recycling, Composting and Waste Disposal. They make living the motto Earth Day, Every Day easy peasy! In 2018, Grain Train Petoskey recycled over 1,000 cubic yards of cardboard. We also diverted over 24,000 pounds of food waste that was converted into compost at Emmet County Recycling, and another 50,000 pounds went to local farmers to feed their livestock. We donated 6 tons of blemished produce to local food pantries. We know that current recycling numbers are similar as we continue to work towards reducing waste each year. We like to reflect on this around Earth Day, but make sure we are living it every day! Check out this article on how you can create less food waste at home

We’d love to hear how your celebrate Earth Day, every day! Stop by our Facebook page and tell us all about it! Make sure that you tune into the Virtual 50th Celebration of Earth Day that our community has been hard at work planning. We wish you and your family all the best and look forward to seeing you at the stores! 

April 22, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

Together

Spring is undeniably here. The days are getting longer, the birds are singing, and the pull to be outdoors grows stronger by the minute. More sunshine and warmer days bring with them a very welcomed comfort and familiarity. Yet there is the reality that we are sheltering in place with a world of uncertainty outside our homes. As we venture out for necessities or essential work, that uncertainty tends to grow. All of us are in this together from wherever we are. At the Grain Train we are doing our best to ease that uncertainty while you are in our stores.


We know that everything we have put in place for the safety of our staff and the community also has its challenges attached. We want to THANK YOU for understanding that the health of all has to come before convenience at this time.

Honoring senior hours and restricted numbers of customers is a gift you are giving to your fellow community members and our staff, thank you. Your mindfulness about how close you are to another person while shopping is an act of kindness. Your willingness to pay with a credit card when you are able is appreciated. You recently received an update from us asking you to wear a face covering while shopping and reminding you about the Health Department's Public Health Advisory about self-quarantine after return from an area to have known community spread of the virus. We thank you in advance for your compliance to these requests.  


We are excited to bring back a few staff members from the past, and doing so has allowed us to expand our store hours in Petoskey. It feels good to be able to offer evening hours again and to offer more hours in the day in general for people to shop. We hear you that you would like a curbside option in Petoskey. We are working hard to see if it is possible to offer. Thank you for your patience and understanding around this.

We could not be more proud of our teams working in the stores! Thank you to the community members who have been making our team members masks. Know that you express your gratitude to each staff member when you wait in line for them to sanitize between customers or wait for them to clear out of an aisle. Today, thank you and gratitude come in the form of slowing down and seeing one another and taking a pause.

Speaking of taking pause, we will be closed in both locations on Easter Sunday. Whatever this day means to you and your family, we hope you are able to celebrate in a way that brings you peace and joy. We open on Monday with our current regular hours and look forward to serving you.


“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members, a heart of grace and a soul generated by love.”


Thank you for being a part of the Grain Train community and for allowing us to be a part of yours.

April 10, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

Hope

 

 

Hello Grain Train Community! Here we are in a new month, a quarter of the way through 2020. It has not been an easy start to the year and we know that the road ahead will have many challenges. Despite that, we are taking the cue from Mother Nature who is coming out of her winter rest and bringing forth spring. We are moving forward despite uncertainty, and we are grateful you are here with us.


In unsettling times comes stress, worry, fear, and all of the faces they wear, but there is something else that grows out of each of us and weaves its ways through our communities when times are tense—HOPE. Hope can bring out the best in us and tie us together. It grows compassion and support between people. It inspires resources like the Emmet and Charlevoix Helping Hands Facebook pages where people are coming together to support one another. Hope nudges us to check in on our neighbors before we head to the store, or it pulls us towards joining one of the many online community gatherings like the weekly virtual Thursday night  Poetry in the Wild reading, brought to us by the Bellaire Public Library and Crosshatch. Even though we are physically distanced, there are many, many different ways to connect and foster hope.

For all of us at the Grain Train, hope manifests itself in doing everything we can to keep our stores open and continue to be that trusted source you rely on us to be. It also comes in looking forward. There is no denying spring is here. Easter is taking place next Sunday. For some, this is not a day they celebrate. Others will be gathering in their homes around screens for services that are near and dear to their hearts. Easter egg hunts will be a smaller family gathering—each of us finding ways to participate in life while sheltering in place. 

We thought you might like a few resources to look over while you are at home. You can find a number of activity sheets for kids right here if they are starting to fill all the coloring books in your house. We also thought you might like these tips on cooking with kids. For those of you ready to get your hands out in the dirt, check out this gardening with children piece, or this one on starting your own container garden.

There are not as many updates as to what is going on in the stores this week, but we do have a few we'd like to note:

  • We heard you when many asked that we still offer cash payment as an option. We began taking cash again on Sunday, March 29. Credit/debit is still our preferred method of payment but we saw the hardship that limiting cash was causing and we adjusted.
  • We are also transitioning away from packaged items on the Hot Bar to offering some of these items in the Grab and Go case as take-and-heat options.
  • In an act of hope, to better serve the community we are going to try to extend our hours in the Petoskey store, starting Monday, April 6. The new hours will be: 
    • Monday - Sunday 9 AM - 8 PM
    • Senior and Immune Compromised Hours will be 9 AM - 10 AM Daily 
    • Boyne City hours will remain the same.

Lastly, we know that our community is hurting with the recent loss of Larry Cummings. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and all of those who were touched by his life. “The closest bonds we ever know are bonds of grief. The deepest community one of sorrow.” -Cormac McCarthy

 

April 01, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

We're Here For You

 

Hi Grain Train Community! It sure is nice to take a moment and know that we are connecting with you. We wish you and your family health and peace of mind today and always. We know that things are not life as normal and they certainly are not business as normal for us, but we want to take a minute and pause with you here to acknowledge that we are all finding our way through uncertain times and that we are doing it together even while we are apart.

We also want to make sure you know that we are open and ready to serve you. Below are the major changes that have taken place since last week that we want to share with you, but most of all we wanted to say hello! We hope that you and your family are finding silver linings in the everyday little moments, just like we are. 

Boyne City: Hours are Monday through Friday 9 AM - 7 PM, Saturday 9 AM - 6 PM, and Sunday 10 AM - 6 PM. To maintain appropriate social distancing we are keeping the total number of customers in the store to 5 people. We will keep track of this, so all you have to do is come in and we will let you know if we are reaching capacity. 

We are really excited to be able to offer curbside pickup and delivery in Boyne City! Thank you so much to the Charlevoix County Transit for making delivery possible for our customers! Delivery is Monday-Friday in Boyne City, Charlevoix, and East Jordan. We are unable to offer weekend delivery service at this time. We don’t have a great way to get frozen products to you via delivery so those will have to be curbside or in person items. If you would like to utilize this option, place your order by noon for delivery the next day. We are able to offer curbside pickup seven days a week. Call in or email us your shopping list: 231-459-4522 or jack@graintrain.coop. We sure wish we had an online ordering option, but we aren’t there yet. There is no charge for this service and it is limited to the Boyne City store at this time.

Petoskey: Daily Hours are 10 AM - 6 PM, Monday-Sunday. We are keeping the total number of customers in the Petoskey store to 10 people. Just like in Boyne City, we will keep track of this, so all you have to do is come in and we will let you know if we are reaching capacity. 

We are now offering special hours for Seniors and those who are Immune Compromised. These hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 AM -10 AM. We will have someone at the door to greet you, at a safe distance, and they will be making sure that we maintain 5 or less customers in the store during these hours. The reality is that store hours are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. As we said earlier, this is not business as usual but we are finding a rhythm and hope that you are as well. We will keep you updated as changes occur. 

A few more things you might want to know that are happening at the Petoskey store include: We are looking into possibilities for curbside pickup but at this time that is a Boyne City only option. There are some really hard choices we have made to better protect staff and customers during this time such as temporarily stopping accepting cash. We are accepting credit/debit cards and personal checks. We are also temporarily suspending all returns at this time, including products, bottle deposits, and Farmers Creamery bottles. We will be accepting these again in the future, if you are able to hold onto them. With the safety of staff and customers in mind we are no longer serving coffee in the deli. We can’t wait until you can come for a cup of coffee and stick around and drink it with us! 

One last thing to share is that our General Membership Meeting and election will be a virtual event on Sunday, April 26. We are still working out the details on this but we will be sure to let you know well in advance. 

We thought you might like to see that we are still getting food in regularly. There will continue to be out of stocks and product availability issues but know that food is coming in and is here for you to purchase.

Again, thank you for being a part of the Grain Train. You each mean so much to us now and always. We sure look forward to a time when March Madness is in full swing, Easter is just around the corner, and what to plant in our gardens is the biggest question out there. Speaking of that, you will start to see some healthy eating and spring gardening tips coming through our social media pages as we settle into the new normal. We hope you enjoy them and feel free to share with the rest of us any recipes or tips you come across.

Until next week, stay safe and we will see you—at a distance—in the stores.

March 26, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

Where We Are Today


Wow, what a week it has been. We have a lot of gratitude going around at the Grain Train. Gratitude for our staff who are showing up for the Grain Train community in so many ways that it makes our hearts full to the brim. We could not be prouder of our team! There is so much gratitude for our greater community and the web that is being cast to make sure that everyone is cared for. Gratitude to all who are working to get food to us and all the grocery stores to replenish shelves. Perhaps most of all, so much gratitude to all those out there working the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our gratitude is also extended to you and your understanding that it is not a business-as-usual-world right now.

There have been a lot of changes to our three locations in relation to COVID-19 and more are undoubtedly coming. We are updating our website daily and you can stay connected with what is happening at the Grain Train here. Below you will find a summary of our COVID-19 response to date.




We know that there are not any easy answers right now. Everyone is doing the best they can in the moment and from there we move forward. We will leave you with a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien's, The Fellowship of the Ring: “The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.


In Compassion and Cooperation,

Grain Train

March 18, 2020 by Mindy Taylor

COVID-19 Update


As the new coronavirus known as COVID-19 has reached the United States, there is a lot of conflicting information out there about the risks and what we can all do to prepare. At the Grain Train, the health and well-being of our community is a top priority for us, so we wanted to share with you a few of the things we are doing to prepare for the possibility of an outbreak here in Northern Michigan, as well as the sources we are following to stay up-to-date.

There are currently two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, both in the Detroit area, according to the most recent data from the Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Because of the likelihood that it will eventually reach our area, we are following food industry guidelines to create a contingency plan so we can continue to serve our community while limiting the spread of illness and keeping our team and customers safe. 

In the meantime, while good hygiene is foundational to all of our processes, we are doubling down on emphasizing the importance of proper hand-washing techniques to our team as well as increasing the frequency with which surfaces and utensils in the stores and cafe are sanitized. We are also temporarily suspending our sampling program out of an abundance of caution; this will include the tastings that Angela does each Thursday. Although sampling is a favorite at our stores, we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep our community safe. We're monitoring the situation closely and as circumstances evolve, you will likely see more changes around the store designed to help prevent the spread of illness.

We are working to stay in stock for as long as possible on key items that have been in unusually high demand nationwide. If we are out of stock, check back soon as we will continue trying to get these products. Even as these become harder to get, please know that we will continue to try to find products that meet our product guidelines, because we believe you should never have to choose between your family’s health and the health of the planet.

We will also never engage in price gouging. In the broader market, some high-demand items have become prohibitively expensive as companies take advantage of people’s fears. We work hard to bring high-quality products to our community at affordable prices at all times, and that is as important to us now as ever.

For more information, you can find daily updates from MDHHS at michigan.gov/coronavirus and their most recent FAQ here. We’re also paying attention to the World Health Organization’s advice for the public, including recommendations for how and when to use face masks.

We share this information in hopes of instilling comfort and confidence that as your community grocery store, we are paying close attention to the world around us and taking extra precautions to keep our team and customers safe. We can’t know how this outbreak will look when it reaches Northern Michigan, but the Grain Train will continue to do everything we can to support the health of our community.

March 11, 2020 by Elizabeth Meeks