It’s been a little more than ten years since I began working at the Brattleboro Food Co-op, and a little more than six since I took on the General Manager role. Looking back, this organization went through so much in that time, it’s a little hard to believe. Traumatic tragedies, difficult tensions, epic mechanical failures, transitions a-plenty, and ultimately a long and winding road to profitability.
This year, we were able to reach some goals that would never have been possible even a couple of years ago: partial shareholder-loan repayments, employee gainsharing, and even a declaration of patronage dividends (which shareholder-owners will receive when coming in to shop after the holidays). This reversal of fortune is due to many factors, and I have the satisfaction of being able to leave the Co-op in a very good position to be able to continue the work we have been doing—both in the store and in the community.
I have thanked so many over the last few months: our committed Board of Directors, our talented staff, our inspiring community partners, and our steadfast lenders. All have contributed importantly to our Co-op’s success. On my way out, I wish to especially thank the management team. I set high expectations for them to learn how to do things more efficiently, more sustainably, and with better results. They have delivered, despite some of the most difficult conditions I could imagine. Through it all—adapting to a union environment, dealing with physical plant challenges, adjusting to constant business pivots in the pandemic, and learning how to manage a shifting supply chain—they are the often unsung heroes of our cooperative. We would not be where we are today without the unimaginable amount of dedication and work accomplished on their parts. I thank them all deeply.
And now, we prepare for the final holiday push of the year, juggling all the variables that are now part of our grocery store world. May we end the year in kindness, joy, and compassion, with renewed commitment to a more just world.
I’ll still see you in the aisles!
P.S. I will be in the aisles most of the day, Monday 12/27, Tuesday 12/28, and Thursday 12/30 to converse with anyone who wishes to do so. This is a cooperative grocer’s way of having a going-away party!
By Sabine Rhyne, General Manager