New Interim General Manager at OB People’s

by on January 22, 2019 · 12 comments

in Ocean Beach

There’s a new “interim” General Manager at OB People’s Organic Food Market. Tim Sullivan was just recently brought on to manage the store on a temporary basis, and to get it out of its slump.

Sullivan stated this in so many words in an undated letter sent out to all the co-op owners of the iconic organic food store. Meanwhile, Jim Kace, the official GM, is reportedly on medical leave.

In the letter, Sullivan said “over the past 3 years we have seen steady sales declines,” and added, “we have seen our bottom line slip into the red”. He places the main blame for the situation where the market “like many co-ops around the country, is struggling as a result of significant increases in competition”, on rising costs and declining sales.

One has to only think about all the more mainstream foodstore chains adding “organic” sections, like Sprouts, Ralphs, Stumps.

Sullivan’s job he says is to “look at every aspect of how People’s business, and develop better practices wherever possible.”

This is all unsettling news, of course, that People’s is and has been in the red. As OB’s largest employer, People’s has a significant presence in the community. Since it opened its doors in the early 1970s, People’s has developed a loyal fan and supporter base, not just in OB, but from around the city and county. Hopefully, Sullivan and the Board can figure out a way to get back into the black and stabilize the favorite market of many.


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

OBKID January 22, 2019 at 12:47 pm

too expensive.


retired botanist January 22, 2019 at 6:19 pm

Wow, surprising and slightly discouraging news, and I hope Mr. Sullivan can turn things around.
Here’s my deal about the competition: Yes, many of the big chains now have organic sections, but they mix the items in with big name brands, non-GMO, and overseas sourced products. So its still a laborious quest to buy local, buy organic, and consume with a small footprint. Kudos to those chains for branching in the right direction, but frankly 85% of the items sold in big retail grocery stores are still not real FOOD. And of course there’s always that pesky subscription to large corporations that rub some of us the wrong way. And I’m not even going to address the whole ‘order online/blue apron/get someone else to gather for you’ options that seem so popular with ‘busy’ folks…
The programs that offer “co-op food, buy what you get in a box once a month” sort of thing are great for families, but often too much food for 1 person.
Haven’t read much about the success of OB People’s new cafe/restaurant in the adjacent, former bar space- how’s that going?
I hope OB Peoples can come back into the black zone- imo they have always offered a great service and straightforward product to conscientious shoppers and eaters :-)


retired botanist January 22, 2019 at 6:45 pm

Oops, I meant to write GMO, not non-GMO. Sorry!


Ben January 23, 2019 at 10:16 am

Do you think this is declining sales or building and opening the Garden Cafe? (for which they presumably took out big loans…)


thequeenisalizard January 23, 2019 at 10:38 am

Being one of the most expensive and overpriced organic food stores might have something to with it. Food for thought.


retired botanist January 23, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Ben: I think that’s a question I have, too.
The Queen: Yep, food at Costco is probably cheaper and you can even get salmon farmed in Chile…or maybe Whole Foods is cheaper now that it has amalgamated w/ Amazon. How one spends a food dollar buys more than just the food these days… :)


Val January 23, 2019 at 12:02 pm

I live in walking distance to it, but opt to drive out of OB for decent priced groceries. People’s is just too expensive, even if you can afford it. Why pay more for something when you don’t have to?


kh January 23, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Not having to drive, for one. That’s worth something. Giving them business at times when you don’t quite need it, so it will be around for when you do need it… that’s another.

But if despite that, people withing walking distance are willing to drive past it to do their shopping outside of OB, their days are numbered.


retired botanist January 23, 2019 at 2:33 pm

I still maintain that the math is bigger than the cost of the item and I’m all about supporting local endeavors, reducing environmental footprints, and endorsing good business practices when I can. Driving to big box grocery stores, buying food that undermines the local economies of other countries (per previous Costco comment-salmon don’t even occur in naturally in Chile!) and not using regional resources are efforts I try to avoid.
What one can “afford” is obviously a multi-faceted question. What I can’t afford is an environment contaminated by GMOs and pesticides, so I try not to support (with my $) businesses that sell those products. These are all personal consumer choices, and I do understand those who choose otherwise. For me, its a process and I’ll probably never hit 100% satisfaction with where my food dollar goes, but for now “give me spots on my apples” as Mitchell sang :-)
What gripes me is at what point did we have to start calling food “organic” ? Think about it. What is now “organic” used to be just plain old food. Why can’t we call it ‘food” and the other stuff “GMO food” or “pesticide added food” or “processed” food. The onus, the more expensive stigma, the labeling, the certification- its all had to sit at the feet of those peddling what used to be ‘garden variety food’. In other words, ordinary food has become something ‘exotic’ and that’s partly why it is often more expensive. And that sucks…


ZZ January 23, 2019 at 3:58 pm

Well said! Your health is priceless. People’s has delicious prepared foods free of the processing and chemicals sold elsewhere.

Part of eating healthy is surrounding yourself with healthy food you like, and avoiding being physically around junk food.

We are so lucky to have a grocery store not run by a for-profit corporation.


Vern January 24, 2019 at 7:43 am

We haven’t been back to People’s for a number of years now. The product mix was good, prices were fine, it’s the “people” from what I recall. Not happy, not smiling, kinda pissed for whatever reason. It’s OB for cryin’ out loud, be happy!


Lizzy Smith January 19, 2020 at 12:27 pm

I have worked at people’s the past five years:
I am paid a livable wage $22/hr.
I get full benefits health, dental,vision, vacation, sick,comp time, 401K
with this iam able to:
support my children ( all 3 go to private school)
own rather than rent
taken annual vacations
support the homeless in OB
have me time: yoga, spin pilates, surf
GASP!- am I a terrible person


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