Greetings from the re-invented Brattleboro Food Co-op!

  | Covid-19, Curbside Pickup

We have now more or less stabilized into our new schedule for curbside orders paired with open store hours. Just to remind you, we take orders at 802-246-2800 from 8:00 a.m. to noon for same-day pickup, and noon to 2 for next day pickup. We also are open for those not isolating from 2 pm to 7 pm.

A few explanations about how we are doing what we are doing, and what you can expect from us.

For those of you who are isolating:

Please use our curbside service. We have not made an hour or two available in the store for at-risk shoppers because we do not believe that you should be entering the store at this time and there are too many of you to be in the store in a safe way. So please use our curbside service.

You can help us be more efficient with this service by:

  • Having all of your items on a list, ideally grouped by store area (i.e., produce items together, dairy items together, etc.). Please don’t ask your spouse or kids what they need during the call, nor look through your refrigerator or cabinets. The extra time we spend on the phone with you is time we cannot answer another person’s call.
  • Being sure that you answer the phone call that we make to get your payment information. That means giving us an alternative number if there is even a little chance that you may not hear the phone or be out of range. If you don’t answer, the system backs up.

If you are interested, this is how it works:

We have four to six people answering phones during those six hours. If you have trouble getting though, we apologize, but we are taking orders as fast as we can. The orders then are picked up and rushed downstairs for selectors to shop for you. These are our kitchen and deli employees, as well as a few other folks who are working in the hours that the store is not open. When those orders are shopped, they are run through the register and the transaction is suspended. The items are stored in three areas: dry, cool, and frozen. Then, after we have a dozen orders staged, you get a call for your credit card info, and are asked to come and pick up at the curb. When you arrive, our runners ask your name, and go find the various pieces of your order. We have been known to miss a piece or two, so we are working on that system, but also ask that you check to make sure you have your frozen product, for instance, before you leave the premises to save you any inconvenience.

We ask that you be clear with your phone order whether you would take a substitute or not, and what your quality standards are. So, for instance, if you want a hard avocado, please tell us. If you want organic milk but would take any milk, please tell us. We may not make it all right, but it helps to get that info.

If you are ordering with several other families for a common pickup, please try to order at about the same time, and be sure to tell us that there are one or two other orders that will be picked up together. We will still stage them by name, but the sequencing will allow us to find the orders more easily when you pick up.

We will be adding the service of an online ordering system in the next couple of weeks, if all goes well. As we transition to this offering, we will no doubt have trouble meeting demand, but we hope that you are patient with us as we redeploy our staffing resources to this new method of ordering. We will let you know more as we get closer.

For those of you who are coming in to shop:

We are limiting the number of people in the store at the front door. We try to see where there are too many people congregating, for instance in produce or in the bulk service area, before we let more people in. But we ask you to follow simple rules, to be accountable for your actions.

Please stay six feet away from other shoppers and employees. If there are too many shoppers in produce, go to another part of the store and come back. Please stay back from people in lines at the register, trying to not clog up the wellness aisles while you do so.

Please wear a mask, and read up on proper mask usage. Our understanding is that the Health Department has recommended that we do so as long as we are outside of our houses. If you are coughing or sneezing, please do not come to the Co-op and use our curbside service instead.

Please use plastic (credit, debit, gift cards, or EBT) when you pay. I know we have been getting away from this for years, but right now, we need to use cards to minimize the exposure to cashiers and to you.

Please do not bring in any extraneous things like shopping bags, milk bottles, plastic bags, or jars. As much as it pains me to say this, we have to use plastic and paper right now. We are pre-bagging bulk for you, and we will do herbs and nut butters to order, but only in new containers. You can leave your shopping bags in your car, or outside the Co-op, and bring your “naked” groceries from your cart out to your car to pack in your backseat. Or you can bag them in a paper bag. Milk bottles are being taken by the back dock. You will see the stacks of milk crates, labeled, back there, to put them in yourselves. Please tell the cashier what you are owed, or the curbside phone person, and we will do our best to get your deposit credited to you.

Finally, thank you. Thank you for putting up with our mistakes and our additional requests. We have gotten lots of love from you folks for attempting to re-invent this grocery store thing in this time of extreme upheaval. I will soon send you another memo elucidating the financial effects of all of this, which you should be aware of as owners of this business. Stay tuned, and thank you for shopping the Co-op!


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