I would like to start this month by extending a heartfelt thank you to Jon Megas-Russell who is moving on to new adventures after an amazing career with the Co-op. Jon built a strong and capable Marketing and Community Relations team and was instrumental in helping the Co-op build strong ties to our community. Jon – thank you for your time, energy, and service as a member of the Brattleboro Food Co-op team. You will be missed, and we wish you the best in your future endeavors!
It is hard to believe that August is already upon us when it seems like the summer just began. Our fiscal year began in July, and one month in to fiscal 2023 we are seeing the continuation of several challenging trends. Covid variants continue to emerge, supply chain challenges continue, inflation continues to rise, and climate change continues to spark massive wildfires along the West Coast and drought conditions across the country. Relief is a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress and we can all certainly use some relief.
Fortunately, some of the changes we have put in place are beginning to provide some relief, at least in terms of hiring at the Co-op! We made some tweaks to how we recruit for positions, added a referral bonus, and combined with the recent compensation adjustment, we have finally been able to recruit the folks we need to get the team closer to full strength. Within the past month we have been able to fill several key positions on our Deli, Maintenance, Marketing and Community Relations, Produce, Wellness, and Front End. This will provide some much-needed support for our teams working in short-staffed departments. We are finding relief in other ways as well. We continue to make progress reducing our debt, especially to shareholders, and were able to find a solution for a major plumbing challenge that forced us twice to close the store unexpectedly. We are in a good position to continue our focus on delivering a better experience at the Co-op.
We are also fortunate enough to be able to be a source of relief. Thanks to the generosity of our shoppers, our Round Up for Change program has donated over $113,000 to community organizations since the program began. In addition, our shareholders have spent over 2100 hours working with community programs in the past 12 months alone. It is important to remember that by shopping at the Co-op you are providing direct and immediate support and relief to people in our community. The Co-op community is evidence that while we all seek relief, together we can find it. Thank you for your time, energy, and support.
By Lee Bradford, General Manager