“A worker cooperative is a cooperative that is owned and self-managed by its workers. This control may mean a firm where every worker-owner participates in decision-making in a democratic fashion, or it may refer to one in which management is elected by every worker-owner who each have one vote.”
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rainbow operates as a non-hierarchical cooperative. This means that all higher level decision making is done by either: 1) democratically-elected members of specific committees, or 2) direct membership participation in decision making processes at the department and store wide level. All of these follow a majority process, not a consensus process.
The Americans with Disability Act requires businesses like Rainbow to allow our customers to be accompanied by a service animal. These animals are specifically trained to do work or perform a task. Sometimes these tasks are obvious, such as a guide dog for a person with a visual impairment. There are times when tasks are less obvious, such as a seizure-alert dog that is trained to respond when their companion is having a seizure. Visitors to our store are not required to provide proof or identification that their animal is a service animal. We are allowed to ask, which we do, but if they answer that it is a service animal, we are required to allow them access. It is illegal to present a pet as a service animal but we are unable to enforce that beyond asking.
If however, an animal is not housebroken or is not under the control of its companion, we can ask that the animal be removed. It’s a tricky situation and unfortunately, there are some that take advantage of the situation to bring in animals that otherwise should not be permitted. We do feel it is important to ensure that we provide access for all of our customers including those that use a service animal and will continue to ensure that we remain a place welcome to people of all abilities.
As our bulk section shows, we’re committed to doing everything that we can to support a zero-waste world. Unfortunately, there are some products that we simply can’t provide safely or of a quality we feel comfortable with in bulk, and water is one of them. We have done extensive research and testing into different systems and have not found one that we feel comfortable with. Overall, the ones that provide the best filtered water—a reverse-osmosis system—has a major drawback that it requires one gallon of water to be “wasted” in order to produce one gallon of filtered water. In an environment that is so susceptible to drought and water shortages, we have been reluctant to adopt such a system. Other filtration systems do not produce the clean water that we feel would be appropriate for our customers. We are continually looking at options and if one becomes available that meets our needs, we would be happy to provide it.
We’re thrilled when customers bring their own bags and are happy to provide a bag credit for each re-usable bag that you use. Unfortunately some customers have used their own bags as a means of taking products out of the store without paying for them. In order to reduce theft and avoid confusion, we ask that customers use the baskets or carts that we provide while they’re shopping and their own bags after purchasing their groceries.
While we would love to be able open a location in the East Bay, the particular nature of our business’s structure makes such expansions very challenging. We would be very hesitant to open another location if it couldn’t meet the same level of service for our customers, our community, and our workers. At this point, we believe the best way to use our resources is to work hard towards making our store here in San Francisco the best it can be, while finding other ways to support communities establishing their own cooperatives.
Being a singular retail business, Rainbow is unable to take on the enormous infrastructure that would be required to create an internal system for delivering and/or shipping products to our Bay Area customers and beyond. As such, Rainbow has partnered with Instacart to facilitate the delivery of thousands of our available products.