Breaking New Ground in 2017

By John Tashiro, General Manager

Hello everyone and a very Happy New Year!

Here we are at the start of 2017 and what an exciting twelve months it has been. Your team at the Co-op achieved many goals this last year. Some highlights include:

·         Co-op Basics: We lowered the prices on over 160 items, including local and organic foods, to create a set of high-quality staples for every shopper

·         Local Product Sales: We hit an all new high with local products making up 40% of our sales

·         Food for All (FFA): This Co-op program offers a 10% discount to community members who participate in 3Squares Vermont, WIC or Social Security Disability or Supplemental Income. We’ve seen consistent growth in FFA membership and sales

·         Membership: As of December 31, we were on the cusp of 12,000 Members!

·         COTS Tree Sale: In our 19th year of the COTS Tree Sale, we sold through 660 trees in a record 7 days! We were able to donate $11,500 to support the Committee on Temporary Shelter’s programs, bringing our total Tree Sale donations to $126,000.

What’s ahead? In 2017 we’ll mark a key milestone in the Co-op’s history when we open the South End store this fall. From our origins as a buying club in the Old North End back before 1973 to our relocation as the downtown grocer in 2002, who could have anticipated that we’d have enough success to prompt for expansion? While we are absolutely thrilled at the South End store opportunity, we are acutely aware of the potential challenges that come with a transition from a single store format to a multi-store format. We have and continue to seek guidance and resources from the greater co-op network to prepare us for the potential impacts on our culture, staff and systems, and will do our best to help make the transition as smooth as possible (and learn from our inevitable mistakes!).

Last month, we started construction on the South End store and focused on removing parts of the rock ledge and installing pilings. Steel and foundation work will begin this month. Our official ground-breaking ceremony will take place in February and we’ll share more information when we have a specific date.

I’m sure, like me, many of you have created New Year’s resolutions or perhaps have been having second thoughts about the ones you made last week. In tune with the many options from exercising more, eating healthily, finding time to relax, volunteering and giving back to the community, why not see what the Co-op has planned over the next few months. We offer a variety of classes to help you check those resolutions off your list and make them life-long habits. If you’re a Co-op Member Worker, volunteer with our Community Outreach Partners (after attending an orientation) and receive a discount in the store.

To ensure I continue to eat healthy foods, I always have New Year’s plans to try new ingredients and recipes with family and friends. One of my favorite winter recipes is a simple vegetable hotpot dish that’s easy to make and very adaptable.

Vegetable Hotpot

Chop a block of tofu and an assortment of vegetables into 2-inch pieces (consider spinach, cabbage, onions, shiitake mushrooms and bean sprouts) and set aside. Create a dipping sauce: I like a simple peanut sauce combining a quarter cup of peanut butter, a tablespoon of soy sauce (to taste) and hot water to melt. An alternative would be a ponzu soy sauce made from 1 cup of lemon juice (or combination of lemon and lime juices), 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 1 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoon tamari sauce, and 2 tablespoons of mirin. Boil water in a pot, add the chopped vegetables, cook, dip in the sauces and enjoy!

As always, thank you all for your support throughout 2016. We will continue to listen and serve you, our Members and the broader community this year. We’re all looking forward to a fantastic 2017 and wish you all the very best!