As we round the bend into the last month of 2020 (can I get an “Amen”?!?), we launch into the reconfiguration of the Bulk department to offer more options for you to select from gravity bins yourselves, as opposed to us bagging them for you in arbitrary quantities. Much thought, work, and investment has gone into this change, and we hope that you enjoy the effect on your shopping choices in that department. As you’ll see, we will continue to serve you with liquids, nut butters, and herbs, and have moved things around to make that a bit more efficient.
As we have for the categories of products that we have opened up again to self-serve in past months, we will continue to sanitize the touch points. However, we are not as of yet admitting members’ own containers from home. That is likely to happen in the near future, but we want to ensure that we are able to set up the right system for keeping all of us safe. So for now, please use the paper or plastic that we provide, and stay tuned. Thank you for your patience.
Various new inexpensive products have been integrated throughout the store, as many of you have seen already. The sad demise of Thomas Dairy in Rutland has opened the door to Hood products from Massachusetts, familiar to Dottie’s shoppers, in the Dairy cooler. Alongside these new value-priced items are new fresh milk options from our friends at Miller Farm in Vernon, who have recently branched out into liquid milk along with their milk production for Stonyfield Yogurt. As we take note of local food options in this pandemic landscape, a few farms and producers are expanding their lines and making themselves more and more known to their neighbors.
We have been heartened to see the increased sales of local products in our store over the last year. Some of this shift is pandemic-related, as local production was less impacted by supply chain upsets in the early months, and some is due to renewed appreciation by our shoppers. As we reviewed our performance on the goals iterated by our Ends statements, we saw that local sales rose nearly 3.5% last fiscal year, even as the total sales volume decreased by 2% over the same period. All departments saw notable increases in their local sales, with the exception of departments that had to shut down or severely cut back due to the pandemic initially. For the second year in a row, our Produce department saw double-digit local sales growth! I am hopeful that our understanding and support of local farms will extend far beyond the COVID impact so that we can continue to bolster our ability to provide for ourselves within our region as much as possible. We also tabulated growth in our organic sales, with a whopping 7.15% growth year over year. This is all very good news!
And now, here we are, well into our new fiscal year, which is going much better than expected, overall sales-wise. Our challenge of keeping you and ourselves safe during the inevitable shopping volume has proved to successful, though difficult. Thank you for taking steps to limit your trips and the length of time in the Co-op. Thank you for utilizing curbside to meet your needs, or at least support shorter visits in person. As with all things COVID, a little planning and care go a long way to ensuring that we all continue to have access and that we can serve you well.
We close this outrageous year with a wealth of gratitude to you all for your support throughout this adventure. As always, hoping to see you—briefly—in the aisles!
By Sabine Rhyne, General Manager