by Joanne Mierek
It seems about time for me to let Common Ground owners know a little bit about me and what I do here at the store. For about 20 years, I've worked for a number of retail, wholesale and food service companies, all small independent businesses. My husband Jason and I met while working for an independent bookstore in San Francisco. (Subsequently put out of business by Amazon Books - remember when Amazon just sold books?) We moved to Champaign in 2002 after our daughter was born. I had been shopping at Rainbow Market in SF and was a member of a local CSA, so one of the first things I did here was become an owner of Common Ground.
At that time, the co-op was an owner-only store in the basement of the Illinois Disciples Foundation on Springfield in Champaign. I volunteered to watch children in the church playroom while parents shopped and sewed 2 or 3 aprons for the volunteer workers. In 2010 I was hired as a cashier/change-maker, then worked as an MOD. Between summer 2011 and May 2017 I was a buyer, then manager of what became the Wellness Department. In May, I was hired as our first COO and have been learning steeply ever since. I am helping all the department managers to run excellent departments, filling in where needed and coordinating projects.
Common Ground is a valuable community asset and I'm excited to be able to support the efforts of staff, owners, local vendors, and community members in building stronger, more vibrant local networks for food resilience and economic independence. We have a lot of opportunities to develop our store operations so our community has a great place to work and shop into the future.