One Million Cooperative Thank Yous
John Tashiro, General Manager
September is here! With it comes a readjustment to schedules that now include school drop-offs and homework help, seeing the college students back in town, the cool early mornings and evenings, and the expectation of beautiful fall foliage. Do you listen for the honking of the geese as they fly in formation, beginning their journey south? I’m also looking forward to the months filled with harvest festivals and fall celebrations!
Speaking of celebrations, we just completed our almost year-long Member Loan Campaign efforts and received pledges and commitments in aggregate of a little under $1 million! THANK YOU for your incredible support, consideration and generous investments. As with most cooperative endeavors, the Loan Campaign was truly a team effort with staff, Board Members, Members and consultants. Our team worked together to promote the Campaign in a variety of ways – tabling at the stores, lots of signs, many individual conversations, group gatherings, social media, many emails, two rounds of thousands of postcards, and much more! While we fell short of our initial $1.5 million goal, our overall performance for our most recent financial year (finished in June) exceeded our plans beyond the loan shortfall so we remain in a good financial position.
As we reflect back on the 2018 financial year, I want to convey our tremendous gratitude and appreciation for your incredible support of and engagement with the Co-op over these last 12 months. It has certainly been an exciting and also sometimes challenging time with our South End expansion, but our staff and all of our design and expansion partners were truly phenomenal.
- Sales grew by 15% and exceeded $48 million annually, of which approximately 70% came from Members!
- Local products made up over 40% of sales (that’s almost $20 million recirculating back in our local economy with our Vermont vendors and producers)
- Membership neared 13,500, an increase of 9% over the previous year
- Member Workers volunteered almost 18,000 hours with our Community Outreach Partners. That’s the equivalent of over 8 ½ full-time volunteers working for an entire year to make our community a better place!
- Customers donated almost $267,000 to local non-profits through our Rally for Change program. This is a stellar 55% increase over last year and brings our 45 month total since we started the program to just over $670,000!
- Community members who participate in 3SquaresVT, WIC or Social Security Disability/Supplemental Income save money with our Food for All program (FFA). Last year, FFA Members collectively saved over $200,000 on groceries!
Looking ahead, the Co-op will continue to settle into our (still new to us) multi-store format and optimize the many ways we do our work so that we continue to better serve you, our Members and the broader community.
Save the date! We’ll host our Annual Member Meeting on Thursday, October 4 at the ECHO Center. Join us for mingling, music, games, drinks and a light dinner, some information sharing with time for questions, and the company of other Members. You’ll have an opportunity to hear from and talk to current Board Members as well as Board candidates. Since Board Elections run from October 1 through October 21, you’ll be able to vote online right at the Member Meeting if you’d like. Voting is an important benefit of Co-op Membership and we count on your participation! We have seen quite a number of Board candidates at our recent Board meetings and orientation sessions. Postcard invites for Member Meeting will be in your mailboxes soon and the Board Elections Flyer will follow shortly behind! Our entire team is grateful for our Board’s guidance to help steward the Co-op into its next evolution and we look forward to welcoming new and returning Board Members in January (when new terms start).
Our tremendous thanks to you all for your support of the Co-op! You keep our stores bustling and continue to offer us the opportunity to give back to the community. We are committed to continuously improving and we rely on your feedback to do just that! We look forward to seeing you at the Co-op and at the Annual Member Meeting as together we embark on another unbelievable year!