City Market Recognized as Leading Cooperative in U.S.

City Market, Onion River Co-op, downtown Burlington’s cooperative grocery store, was awarded the National Cooperative Excellence Award for 2008. The award is bestowed to one retailer each year in recognition of innovative products and services, outstanding member benefits, and service and growth in net sales and earnings.

This prestigious recognition comes during the Onion River Co-op’s 35th year in business. The Howard K. Bowers Fund Cooperative Excellence Award was accepted by City Market’s general manager, Clem Nilan on Friday, June 13th during the Consumer Cooperative Management Associations Conference in Portland, Oregon. The CCMA conference is an annual event organized by CGIN (Cooperative Grocers’ Information Network) which is a membership organization founded to support the growth and development of food co-ops.
“This award validates the work that all of the Co-op staff has done to effect change in our community and to make our members proud,” said Nilan. “I’m very happy for our staff and members to be able to feel the joy associated with this recognition.” City Market, Onion River Co-op has grown substantially since 2002 with over $24 million in sales and more than 10% growth per year. The Co-op serves over 2,500 members of all income levels with both natural and conventional groceries, with a particular focus on local products. The Co-op prides itself in offering thousands of local products to its customers.
Through innovative agreements with the city of Burlington, the Co-op has been called a pioneer in community involvement and social responsibility. Participation in meals for senior citizens, consumer education, dedication to increasing access to healthy food for residents on food stamps, support for the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf and the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), all make the Onion River Co-op a model for community involvement and services. “Achieving that level of success in a small community is impressive enough; achieving it while serving the community to such an extent is heroic,” is part of the engraving on the award.
The award was presented by Kari Bradley, General Manager of Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier. “One of the beautiful differences about co-ops is that we operate from a triple bottom line of social good, environmental good and fiscal excellence,” said Nilan. “Serving the community is not something we do when we have extra profit. It’s our mission.”