A few Saturdays ago, I needed to pick up a specific cereal for a friend’s child and I found myself at a discount grocery across town. I had been there once before to check out the competition when they first opened, and both times the atmosphere felt depressing and unwelcoming. So, I bought the cereal and hurried over to the co-op for my daily shopping visit.
When I got there, carolers from MoCo Arts were just ending their song, Christmas trees were being sold for Hundred Nights Shelter, donations were being collected for The Community Kitchen, and there were yummy samples of products throughout the store. The contrast was startling and I immediately felt grateful for our vibrant community co-op.
As a Board Member, I am privy to many of our staff’s efforts to create a welcoming store. They do an amazing job of making it look so easy and effortless, but I am also well aware of their current challenges.
The fantastic success of our co-op and resulting rapid growth of our staff in the last four years has been wonderful for our community and local economy. Yet, on any given day, there are now about forty employees using a break room that holds only three people, and very little space to accommodate their personal items like coats, backpacks, and boots. The Marketing and Finance departments have been moved to offices in the Hannah Grimes Center and our Prepared Foods department is experiencing space constraints that hamper their ability to store and cook as much food as our shoppers would like to buy.
We deeply value our talented and friendly staff and we want our co-op to be the best place to work in Keene. As we explore the possibility of expansion, our commitment to providing a safe, accommodating and welcoming workplace is a high priority for the Board of Directors. Our staff strives to provide this atmosphere for our customers and I stand firmly with our member-owners who want to make sure we can provide this for them in return.
An improved, more efficient workplace is just one of the possible benefits of expanding our current store. Providing a greater selection of healthy food choices for you, improving purchasing power to lower prices, and increasing our support for our local farmers are some of the other benefits, and each will affect individuals involved in our co-op differently. We are currently working diligently behind the scenes to lay the groundwork for a successful expansion, and if it turns out to be feasible a phase we will be embarking on soon is research among staff and member-owners.
We want to know what benefits YOU hope to see from a possible store expansion. Starting in the new year, we will be reaching out for input and we look forward to engaging in this important conversation through small events, a shopper email survey, and more. In the meantime, we continue to welcome your thoughts and comments via email at any time to firstname.lastname@example.org.