Board Update — We’ve Got a Birthday Coming Up!

You may be familiar with the poem
Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne:

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.

It is a poem celebrating the life of a six-year-old child, not a food co-op in Keene, but I was struck by the similarities when it was read recently at a six-year-old’s birthday party. Our Monadnock Food Co-op is not yet six and we will be celebrating our fifth birthday in April 2018. Our path is similar to that six-year-old. “When I was five, I was just alive.”  We’ve been growing fast and we are at are at a point in our short history where we’re taking a long look at the next stage of our life as a community-owned food cooperative.

Our annual sales have been remarkable and more than we anticipated back in April 2013 when we opened our doors for the first time. At the end of our 1st fiscal year in 2014 (“When I was one, I had just begun.”) we celebrated $6.4 million in sales and had 1,300 member-owners of our co-op. Two years later on our 3rd birthday in April 2016, —When I was three, I was hardly me — we were 2,280 member-owners strong and had annual sales of $9.9 million at the end of that fiscal year. We now have over 3,000 member-owners who have brought amazing life to our co-op by shopping, experiencing our café, taking advantage of our educational programs, sharing comments, and showing up in great numbers at our annual meetings. Many regular shoppers also support us every day in the store.

We’re almost five and we’re more than “just alive” as the poem describes this five-year-old.  There’s now a strong possibility for more growth and expansion. We are looking at an opportunity we hadn’t anticipated in 2013. Retail and non-retail spaces are overcrowded. Working conditions for our staff are okay but could be a lot better and safer. Shoppers have asked for more items. Despite some very good planning and wise counsel leading up to our opening in 2013, we’ve outgrown our space.

Your Monadnock Food Co-op Board and Store Leadership have started thinking about expansion, what it entails, how much it will cost, and how to pay for it. Elsewhere in this newsletter and on the co-op’s website, you’ll find current information about our expansion plans. There are architectural drawings and news about how the expansion discussion is going forward. The board and store managers want to thank the member-owners and customers who came to our Coffee Hour Conversations and Expansion Input Sessions in January, February, and March. We received many great suggestions and heard your thoughts about what the store should look like. As we move closer to our fifth birthday party — “When I was five, I was just alive” — we want to continue to hear from you. The easiest way is to email us at, at or filling out our expansion feedback form. You may also give feedback on our website’s contact page, or by writing on a suggestion card when you are in the store. We look forward to hearing from you!

Finally, at one of the Expansion Input Sessions, a member-owner shared that she understands all the reason our co-op might need to expand, but she doesn’t want to lose the “heart and soul” of our co-op. She really appreciates the friendliness and community feeling of the store, the great staff, and the selection of local products. Her hope is one shared by many of member-owners and something your board and store leadership share too!