QR Codes Hit the Shelves At Port Townsend Food Co-op

QR Codes: No Longer Just for Surfers and iPhone-toting- skinny-jean-clad Brooklynites



It is no secret that youth makes us more receptive to change. This may explain the prevalence of QR codes in surfing mags and hip fashion brands like Calvin Klein and GAP; campaigns aimed at the 18 to 25 set. But while this new technology may have cuts its teeth on the young, the efficacy and broad application of QR code campaigns are earning it seats of honor in the most unexpected of places.

The small town of Port Townsend, Washington is proof that you don't have to be urban (or 21) to be innovative. The town's Food Co-Op celebrates 2011 with a multimedia campaign aimed at educating their membership on the efficacy of QR codes and their broad range of applications.

Beginning in summer of 2010, Port Townsend's Food Co-op began placing signage on shelves with QR Codes linked to changeable content. Signage has popped up all over the store linking the visual codes to videos, coupons, website landing pages, articles, radio interviews and recipes. Video interviews with local vendors are linked to QR Codes throughout the store. Vendors participating in the QR Code educational program to date include: Dave's Killer Bread, Small Planet Tofu, ECO Orchards, Hometown #1, Pastry Design By Anca, Guayaki, and Mt. Townsend Creamery.

Brwyn Griffin, Outreach/Education/Marketing Manager for The Food Co-op stated, "The QR Code program in the store was proposed to me by an owner of The Food Co-op, Jack Olmsted, who is producing the QR codes and the background videos as a volunteer. Jack is shooting video to provide education to the members via the QR codes. For example, he will shoot a video of a farmer talking about the methods used to grow the products sold to our shoppers. Consumers of the product can find out about soil amendments, organic farming methods, the vendor's family…we can begin to know the face of those producing our foods again."

In the current issue of The Co-op Commons, the newsletter of The Food Co-op, a full page article details the history of QR Codes and the intention the City of Port Townsend has to expand their QR Code program in 2012. Download the newsletter at The Food Co-op website.

A display at the front of the store showcases the vendors currently using the 2D codes as well as videos of staff and board members that can be viewed by smart phone users in the store.

Updates to the campaign and membership discussions are available at The Food Co-op's Facebook page.

While some consumers and brands may have survived 2010 without having scanned one QR code, 2011 is launching them into the realm of the categorical imperative.

Read what small business owner's in the City of Port Townsend are saying about QR Codes:

Dave's Killer Bread
"I am very excited that we are participating at the cutting edge of this amazing technology," explains Dave Dahl, co-founder Dave's Killer Bread. "QR Codes are tools with seemingly unlimited potential for consumer education about our company's story and products. QR Codes are the logical next step--after our website, Facebook/Twitter, and newsletter--with regard to interfacing with our valued customers."

Small Planet Organics - Vashon, WA
"We are moving forward to having QR codes on all of our product labels by early 2011," states Phil Spiegel, Creator of Small Planet Organics, "not just Shelf Talkers." When you pick up a Small Planet Organics product, what a great way to use the Internet to more directly connect us with the people we are feeding. My son, Sage & I, can't think of a better way to complete the circle than by having a tool or vehicle for consumers and supporters to get to know our family and know who is making the food that they are sharing with their family and friends. It's like inviting everyone for a visit or tour and Voila!, there you are.

Hometown Number 1®
"Social media works! The QR code provides convenient and complete access to on line information" says Joel Levy, chef-creator of Hometown Number 1® Blended Seasoning. "For me...it's the pleasure of sharing a great product and purpose!" The QR code is really an invitation to savvy...an opportunity for people to get a taste of Hometown Number 1, to learn about our community and all it has to offer. "The Food Co-op" here in Port Townsend recognizes the advantages of participating in this cutting edge marketing tool for our local artisans and producers. This is an exciting time when success is measured in nanoseconds."

"We believe in helping people connect with the farmers who grow their food." said Bruce Henne, owner of Eco-Orchards. "Having folks know about us; why and how we grow their apples, pears, cherries, etc. is essential to our success as small family farmers. Thought QR Codes we will strengthen our relationship with the PT Food Co-op by connecting more effectively with the co-op members and shoppers. ECO is continually discussing and experimenting with the co-op on how we implement various information technologies, for the co-op members benefit, as we have over our 17 year presence as a co-op farmer-vendor."


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