What's a HOO?
Hands-On-Owners (or HOO's) are important for Peoples to run smoothly. On a continual basis, 90-100 People’s Member-Owners team up with the Collective Management to run the store through this program. They help to keep the store clean, tidy, and stocked. HOO's also help out at events and offer specialized skills that they might be able to offer. We couldn't do it without them!
Involvement in the HOO program offers a number of benefits:
HOO’s become better acquainted about the food and products available at People’s.
HOO’s feel stronger in their role as an owner of the co-op.
HOO’s acquire job skills from working in various departments.
HOO’s receive a shopping discount.
HOO’s appreciate being able to spend time working in a socially, politically, and environmentally conscious organization.
HOO’s become more familiar with how a food cooperative operates and the philosophy behind it.
HOO’s develop relationships and connections with the staff and other members of the Peoples’ community.
HOO’s, most importantly, enjoy their time at People’s.
What's it like to be a HOO?
We asked Josue Avelar, who is currently an opening floor-keeper HOO on Saturday mornings. He supports the staff in getting the store open, and previously worked as a HOO stocking the bulk section on Sunday mornings.
What is your background with food co-ops?
I first learned about food co-ops in college – around the year 2003. My roommate at the time introduced me to the Isla Vista Food Co-op. I was a regular shopper at the co-op, and I ended up working there. I had a great time working for the Isla Vista Food Co-op! I was sad to leave when I graduated from college and had to move to a different city.
One of the first things I did after graduating from college and moving (back) to LA was to look for a food co-op. I found one in Santa Monica and I shopped there as much as I could. As someone who does not drive, it was a little difficult to make it to Santa Monica on a regular basis, but I would go as much as I could.
What brought you to Peoples?
I moved to Portland in 2014, and (once again) one of the first things I did was look for the nearest food co-op. I live close enough to People's to be able to walk there, so I decided to get involved as a HOO. I became a HOO at People's around September 2014.
What inspired you to become a HOO?
What inspired me was an interest in being around the people that shop there more often. I really enjoy people's energy, especially if they care about good quality food, food justice, equality, and fairness.
What have you learned about People’s as a result of being involved as a HOO?
These roles have taught me more about what goes on "behind the scenes” – like how hard everyone works. I see how some of the staff work long days. I might do a HOO shift in the morning and then go home, but if I come back to shop at People's, some morning staff are still there working very hard.
Being involved as a HOO has also taught me some of People's rich history regarding food justice and the surrounding community. I’ve learned the "major milestones" that you can see on People's website, except I heard about those milestones from people who have been customers and community members since the 60's and 70's.
What do you enjoy about being a HOO?
Besides meeting people, I enjoy the sense of accomplishment. I am aware that People's is a small store, and contributing in a small way seems to make a difference.
What is one of your favorite moments of being a HOO?
I like being complimented by other staff saying that I’m a “great greeter.” No matter what I am doing, I try to acknowledge every person that comes through the doors with a smile and a greeting. What is that quote by William Butler Yeats? "There are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet."