Grateful for our Local Community

By John Tashiro, General Manager

Happy December everyone!

With the arrival of snow in early November and having already experienced our first snowstorm, it feels like we are well in to the winter season. I know the official ski and snowboard season just opened over the weekend and suspect many of you were enjoying your first runs down the slopes. I’m certainly looking forward to some snowshoeing and hiking among the glistening snow, and hope for a healthy snowfall over these next few months.

So wonderful to see many of you in the lead up to Thanksgiving and a HUGE THANK YOU for shopping at the Downtown and South End stores. I’m excited to share that it produced some new Co-op records! We sold more local turkeys than ever before with a gobbling 1,100 birds from our four farm partners. Local and Made in Vermont products were almost half of all items filling your bags – they comprised 47.5% of all sales on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving. Compare that to 41% for the entire FY 2019! And we reached a new store milestone of $113K in sales in one day at the South End! The vibe at the both stores was unbelievable and most importantly, the sales traffic between the two stores has become even more balanced over the last three Thanksgiving holidays. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving continues to be one of our busiest days of the year, and this year, the South End was actually recording higher sales than the Downtown up until late that afternoon. I appreciated many of you coming up to me while I was bagging by the cash registers or collecting baskets and carts commenting on the improved store and parking lot experience and the great service by our staff.

As you might imagine, our staff members invest a significant amount of time, planning months in advance to ensure we meet the needs of our Members and customers as they prepare to celebrate the holidays in a deliciously tasty and local fashion. With over 3,100 local and Made in Vermont products across our stores, we remain committed to our Global Ends and our commitment to “strengthen the local food system.” From local apples and cranberries for your favorite pie and sauce recipes to the over 1,000 local turkeys gracing your Thanksgiving tables, thank you for supporting our local farmers and producers this holiday season!

Speaking of local, by the time you receive this message, we will have just started our COTS holiday tree sale having received our first load of 330 trees yesterday on Wednesday/4th from Moffatt’s in Craftsbury with a second load of 330 trees scheduled for Friday/6th. As with previous years, all the profits from this year’s sale will go directly to the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) one of our long standing non-profit partners. Since 1982, COTS has been providing emergency shelter, services, and housing for people who are homeless or marginally housed in Vermont. They advocate for long-term solutions to end homelessness and we are truly honored to be supporting their great work. We certainly understand why the trees sell out so quickly every year for such a worthy cause and anticipate this year will be no different.

For the second year in a row, we will also be partnering with the Intervale Center through our Buy a Tree, Plant a Tree initiative. When you buy a tree at this year’s COTS Tree Sale, the Intervale Center will plant a tree for you somewhere in Vermont! Your tree will be planted in the spring of 2020, providing habitat for animals, reducing erosion, filtering pollutants before they reach waterways, and sequestering carbon.

Want to support not two but three local non-profits through this year’s tree sale? You can bring your tree to Pine Island Community Farm on Saturday, January 4th for their Tree Recycling event—turn your tree into a tasty snack for their goats!

Lastly, with the upcoming holiday season, I would be remiss not to mention my passion for books and one of my favorite places I frequent often, the Fletcher Free Library! Now, through December 13th, they are hosting their Books for Children Gift Campaign, encouraging the next generous of books lovers!

Here are just some books I have enjoyed recently:

  • For Toddlers: I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb (Author), Suzie Mason (Illustrator)
  • For Children: Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae (Author), Guy Parker-Rees (Illustrator)
  • For Tweens:  Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds (author), Alexander Nabaum (illustrator),
  • For Teens: Puddin' by Julie Murphy
  • For Adults: Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown

As always, thank you all for your ongoing support, as we continue to make every effort to listen and serve you, our Members, customers and the community, in the very best way we can. Wishing you all a very Happy Holidays and wonderful New Year.