South End: A Story of Success

John Tashiro, General Manager & Faye Conte, Board Vice President

There’s less than a month to go before the calendar turns to 2018; what a year we’ve had!

First and foremost, we have gratitude that so many of you have shared your positive views and experiences with the South End store. We are thankful for your incredible belief and support of the Co-op throughout the years and especially in the years that led to this expansion. As we continue to settle in to running two stores, we welcome and appreciate all of your feedback.

As you might imagine, our collective South End dream became a reality through the cooperative efforts of many. We have been reflecting on these efforts, and marvel at the time, dedication, and vision that so many have brought to the table over the years to make this happen. From our Board and now over 300 staff members to our design and construction partners; Mayor Weinberger and the various City of Burlington Departments and Councilors; our local and national co-op colleagues; our farmers, vendors and distributor friends - it truly took a village. 

The journey began many years and a few General Managers and Boards ago, when the Co-op first started the idea of an expansion. They considered our increasing sales, our growing capacity constraints in the Downtown store, and our ever-busy parking lot. Most importantly, they saw an opportunity to serve more community members, both as a grocery store and a community partner. Fast forward to June 2015 and we announced plans to purchase land on Flynn Avenue. Then after much hard work over 29 months, we opened our South End store on November 16th, just a few short weeks ago.

During the past few years, there were many late night Board meetings, frequent all-staff listening and sharing sessions, countless collaborations with our design and construction partners, numerous engagements with Members and the community, continuous support and guidance from the Mayor, City Departments and Councilors, and tireless assistance from our cooperative network. While there were various challenges along the way, we maintained a focus on our Global Ends and stayed true to our Cooperative Principles. We listened to a diversity of perspectives and found ways to best incorporate them into what is another milestone moment in the Co-op’s 45 year history.

It is still early days since our opening, but we are excited to share that the general operations and performance in our new store have been extremely positive. We are acutely aware that we still have more work to do to offer all the services and products that you have come to expect from the Co-op. As planned and hoped for, we have seen traffic in the Downtown store ease up a bit, yielding a more comfortable shopping experience for customers and a calmer environment for staff. And, yes, a few more parking spots were available during the Thanksgiving rush. Overall, we are pleased with our progress in both stores so far, but will continue to monitor them and check in with staff and customers as things settle and we prepare for the winter holidays.  

One great way to support the Co-op in this time of transition is through our ongoing Member Loan Campaign. We were originally seeking to raise $1.5 million to support our South End store by November 12th. We are well on our way to that goal, but with the opening of the new store we needed more time to reach out to Members. We are happy to announce that we have extended the deadline into the New Year and are looking to complete the campaign by January 31! We invite you to invest as a very tangible way to support the growth of the Co-op and earn a fair rate of return with a business you already own and believe in. Your investment is a crucial part of our sustainability during this time of exciting growth and change. This campaign has led to some amazing conversations with newer and longer-term Members of the Co-op and we look forward to talking to you too! Many thanks to the Members who have already made an investment!

As always, thank you all for your continued support! We will continue to make every effort to listen and serve you, our Members and the community (now with two locations!) in the very best way we can. Wishing you all a very happy holidays and wonderful New Year.