January 2020 Candidates for the Co-op’s Board:

Jean Bergstrom

Jean Bergstrom

I live about a mile and a half from the co-op.  I am running for the board of directors because I recognize that the situation is dire.  I want to get involved to do what I can do to help the co-op stay alive.  I rely on this place, as a place to shop, I enjoy the restaurant, it is a wonderful community gathering place and I love running into friends and meeting new folks.
 
My co-op number is 63.  My family has been committed since the beginning and gave a substantial sum to help get the co-op built.  I had no idea that the co-op was in such dire straights and tanking fast.  When I learned about the situation I volunteered for the capital campaign to work on fundraising. I bought a stack of co-op cash to front money to the cause.  I have volunteered to be on the communication committee and the sustainability committee.  I have offered to provide hikes and activities in conjunction with the co-op.  Even giving one rainy mother’s day birdwalk last May!
 
I am an active community member.  Volunteering for the school when my kids were there, about 10 years.  Working on the board of the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust where I organized programs and offerings to the community.  And I have been on the Leverett Plannning Board for about 15 years. I own a small business and have a healing practice at my home.
 
I am not sure how much time will be required of me, but I can put in up to five hours of work a week  more or less.  What I think I can contribute to the co-op is my love of this community, my connectedness and my sense of what this community wants. The co-op used to be for everyone and now it feels like it is just for the elite. I have witnessed a divisiveness on the board and I feel that it is evident in the energy at the co-op.  There is a negative vibe and I feel that I have the temperment to help to smooth things out.  I would like to see this place remain a co-op with member involvement rather than a privately run convenience store and/or restaurant. I also have some marketing and communication ideas that could help get the word out.  I am a whiz with mailchimp.
 
I am grateful for all the hard work that the current board and the previous boards have done.  There have been some exciting changes and I like the idea of moving the co-op into new territory. The news of loans to help bail us out is indeed good news.  But I am not sure that we will not find ourselves back in the current situation with the plan that has been presented.  I am open to hearing from all sides on the issue and doing what I can to help the co-op not only survive, but thrive.
Sam Black

Sam Black

Why do you wish to serve on the Co-op Board?
The Co-op is an important resource for Leverett and surrounding communities. As a recently retired UMass Professor I have the time, energy, and inclination to help sustain this resource.

What particular qualifications do you have that suit you to the Co-op Board service?
I have extensive experience writing competitive grants for federal and foundation funding and working co-operatively with others.

How much time will you be able to commit to the Board work?
As an interim member of the Co-op Board I invest several hours each week on Co-op and Board business. More time will be required as we move forward with surveying Leverett and surrounding communities for grocery stock, and café menu preferences, and ramp up our membership drive and fund-raising activities. I am willing to spend the time needed on Co-op Board business.

Are you willing to actively help fund-raise for the Co-op?
Yes.

Have you previously volunteered at the Co-op?
Yes, I serve as an interim member on the current Co-op Board.

How have you actively contributed to the well-being of the Co-op over the years?
My family has spent more than $100/week at the Co-op since 1993 when we moved to Leverett. I have also contributed to on-going fund-raising at the Co-op.

What in your business background would contribute to the fiscal well-being of the Co-op?
I raised and managed research and academic budgets in an accountable and  fiscally responsible manner for more than 40 years. I like analyzing data and have strong quantitative skills.  I think these skills will translate well in helping increase and manage the Co-op budget.

Lise Coppinger

Lise Coppinger

I have lived in the area since 1989. My husband, Tim, and I are self employed. For 25 years, when we were young and stupid, we plowed driveways here in Leverett and Shutesbury. For ten years, we grew organic vegetables and livestock. Coppinger Farm, one of the first Community Supported Farms in the country, fed 65 families in our local area, including a donated share to the monks at the Peace Pagota. We had three kids, and got beat up by mother nature while we farmed. Having enough of meditation while hoeing, and PTSD from the weather, I went to grad school and was an elementary school teacher for 5 years, two of which I taught at LES. Tim wooed me away from teaching and I went back to working with him full time, owning and running a small residential construction business with a focus on energy efficiency, building science and integrative design. We also fabricate and install standing seam metal roofing. (Although many local roofs are done by us, we did not install the metal roof on the Coop building.)

Why do I wish to serve on the Board
The Coop needs board members. I have some time and I am willing, and feel like I have something to offer in the area of membership outreach, communication and involvement. I can also act as a liaison for building related problems and maintenance. As a local builder, I have connections…

Qualifications to Serve
I have owned and run small businesses in the local area for the last 25 years
I know how to work as a team
I’m a good listener and communicator
I have excellent organizational skills

Time per week to commit
In this critical time of where the Coop is at financially, I can be flexible with my time.
Ideally 5 hours a week.

Willing to Help Fundraise
Absolutely!

Volunteered in the past
Yes – Spring Fling, permaculture garden

How have I actively Contributed to Well-Being of the Coop
I became a member when I moved here. My membership number is #161
For about 4 years, in the 1990’s we supplied organic vegetables from our farm up on Chestnut Hill road where my husband grew up.
Plowing and sanding the parking lot.
My family has contributed to capital campaigns and donated money.
My husband and I have donated professional time over the years, consulting on problems with the Coop building.
I have volunteered to help with inventory and shelving groceries.
Recently, I have increased my shopping and having dinner at the Coop.

What in my Business Background will contribute to Business/Fiscal well-being
My businesses have never been in the red.
I’m not afraid to ask for people to help physically or monetarily to secure the Coop’s future.
I have ideas for fundraising, management, lowering utility costs, sourcing loans and large gifts.

Lori Lynn Hoffer

Lori Lynn Hoffer

I love the Co-op and I realized recently it is my duty and desire to be more involved. I hope that the addition of new board members can help the group to find consensus and to diminish the current divisiveness.

My family has lived just down the hill from the coop for 15 years, and our children have grown up walking to the coop with the family, then walking up on their own, and finally driving up on their own. We appreciate the coop as both the social hub of our neighborhood and as an important source of food/drink/supplies/ gifts etc, that generally shares our values for sourcing products. We love the premise of cooperatives, and also applaud the recent efforts at our coop to grow a restaurant/dining/pub focus.

I offer almost 40 years of work experience in the realm of graphic design including communications/marketing/fund-raising campaigns. Most of these years I have run my own small business; clients have been predominantly non-profits: hospitals, colleges, schools, and local organizations. I often donate pro bono design work for local non-profits. I currently work part-time for the Hartsbrook School as the Creative Coordinator, and spend the rest of my time as a fine artist, creating botanical and landscape paintings, and supporting the Leverett Crafts and Arts Center, where I am a member of the Gallery Committee, and also a member of the Leverett Cultural Council.

Over the years I have frequently supported the village coop by donating design services for posters, brochures, logo etc. I believe my expertise/experience in this area can be helpful to the next phase of promoting and building the coop. I have also been happy to brighten up the walls of the coop space with my paintings, often throwing up a show when there is a last minute need, and would be glad to be involved in supporting exhibits and local artists there, once finances are stablized.

I am willing to help the coop with fundraising, with committee work and membership, with my design/communications skills, and however I can provide support and patronage. I have great interpersonal skills and can be helpful and creative in finding consensus. I am dedicated to supporting a healthy future for our coop.

Jeff Lacy

Jeff Lacy

Why do you wish to serve on the Coop board?
I am dedicated to the success of the Coop because of its value to the hill-town communities it serves, and to me personally.  I hope to help return the Coop to a sound financial state and bring its members beyond the current acrimonious state we find ourselves in.

What particular qualifications do you have which suit you to Coop board service?
I know the Coop well, having over 30 years of experience, starting in the 80s when it was across the street.  Since moving to Shutesbury in 1996 our family has been a regular presence at the coop, our two girls having almost grown up there.  After retiring from a 32-year career as a land use planner in 2018, I worked at the Coop part-time.  When finances became tight, I took myself off the payroll and continued as a volunteer, stocking shelves, trucking in groceries, and occasionally tending the register.  I have also wholesaled no-spray blueberries from our Shutesbury farm to the Coop for the past two summers.

How much time per week will you be able to commit to board work?
I am retired and have a busy, but flexible schedule.  1-5 hours per week; more as needed.

Are you willing to actively help fundraise for the Coop?
Yes, and I already do.  Our family spends quite heavily on groceries and dining, and I pledged and loaned money in 2019.  More recently I have agreed to help guarantee the Greenfield Savings Bank commercial loan the Coop has been approved for.

Have you previously volunteered at the coop?
Yes, and continue to do so.

How have you actively contributed to the well-being of the coop itself over the years?
See above, but mostly by being a long-time solid customer/member.  Our family spends $100-$200 per week at the Coop and have for several decades.

What in your business background would contribute to the fiscal well-being of the coop?
I have 10 recent years as treasurer of a large non-profit (the Adirondack Mountain Club in New York State).  Currently I run three small businesses – horse farm, trucking/plowing, and planning consultant.  I also have expertise in municipal planning and zoning, so may be able to assist the Coop with local land use permitting in the future.

Tim McNerney

Tim McNerney

Why do you wish to serve on the Coop board?
I don’t. I don’t want to serve, but will do what needs to be done. I would much rather spend my days outside. I am willing to serve, and have been serving, because I had many people in the audience come forward and ask me to be on the board after I spoke at the fundraising meeting. I was already donating my mechanical/problem-solving abilities to the co-op, and stepped up, or rather got dragged in, to the additional work of serving on the board when I saw the co-op being pulled down by misinformation being given by a few who lacked the necessary business skills and financial understanding. At that meeting, I spoke in favor of the only plan that has any kind of sound basis. Knowing that no plan will succeed without the funding this one has, at this point there is no other option to keep the co-op open.

What particular qualifications do you have which suit you to Coop board service?
I can actually understand spreadsheets, working capital, good vs. bad debt, and financial models. In addition I add needed knowledge on infrastructure, equipment, and maintenance issues.

How much time per week will you be able to commit to board work?
So far it has been endless. I hope that will become a more reasonable amount of time, which is my only unrealistic expectation for the co-op.

Are you willing to actively help fundraise for the Coop?
Yes, and I already do.  Our family spends quite heavily on groceries and dining, and I pledged and loaned money in 2019.  More recently I have agreed to help guarantee the Greenfield Savings Bank commercial loan the Coop has been approved for.

Have you previously volunteered at the coop?
I started by continually tweaking your 30-to-50-year-old refrigeration to keep it going, avoid repairs, and prevent further food loss, until the long past due replacement of the units can take place.
When the water heater went down, and could not be fixed, I got it operating better and safer than it had been before, preventing the choice of replacing it or closing down all food services. This avoided the expense of a $2,000 replacement or higher losses from loss of sales, and will allow the replacement to take place with something that better fits the business and energy plans.
I volunteer two days per week as a cashier, and come in other days to tend the register when others are on their breaks. My primary reason for doing this was to enable the manager, who has been working 7 days/week, 14 hours/day, to have a day off. (A day off for her seems to mean she only works 7 hours.)

How have you actively contributed to the well-being of the coop itself over the years?
Aside from the my repair work, maintenance, and volunteering as a cashier, listed in answer 5, and my service on the board, I have solicited loans, donations, and guarantors, or made them myself.
Long before we became aware that the co-op had been in a downward slide for 10 years, and before we saw that slide snowball when we found out that the payroll and sales taxes had not been paid in previous years, I made it a habit to shop LeverettVillage Co-op first, before heading on to another co-op to purchase whatever could not be purchased here.
I have helped the co-op avoid expenses by loaning them needed or essential equipment: CD player, infrared thermometer, refrigerator thermostat, fan motor. Tojo and I just spent 5 hours scrubbing the inside of the walk-in cooler, scrubbing the shelving, and disassemblingand cleaning the evaporator.

What in your business background would contribute to the fiscal well-being of the coop?
I started and co-chaired the team that got River Valley Co-op a $422,000 grant for solar power.
I authored a case study of energy-efficient restaurant equipment that saved $10,000 each year in energy, labor, and chemical costs.
I began teaching the first PC spreadsheet accounting program when others my age were watching Saturday-morning cartoons. I later contributed to books that taught business or accounting and spreadsheet design at the same time, and changed the pedagogy of how those subjects were taught.

10 years working to open River Valley Co-op:

  • Store committee
  • Outreach committee
  • Founder and Co-chair of Green Team which procured $422,000 grant
  • Board of directors
  • Brochure translation
  • Serviced equipment, made repairs, performed installations

Related work experience

  • Founder of the Repair Collective. Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrical, Residential and Commercial Appliance Repair
  • Founder and co-chair of River Valley Co-op’s Green Team which got the store’s solar panels, high-efficiency lighting and refrigeration, rainwater collection system with a $422,000 grant
  • River Valley Market: Board, Green Team, Store Committee, Outreach Committee, and other committees 1999-2008
  • Board Member of Cellular Phone Task Force
  • Initiated the Environmental Design Program at Esalen Institute
  • Author of case study on energy and chemical use in commercial dishwashers: The Ecological Effects of Commercial Warewashing Products which saves $10,000/year
  • World Alliance, Prague, Czech Republic created ordering systems, crisis management, HABA distribution
  • Education: BA Economics Boston College; continued study at Esalen Institute
Julio Mendez

Julio Mendez

The Coop is in desperate need of sound decision making that will help boost her ability to provide the products and services requested by the members and I’d like to be part of fulfilling that need.

During our last member meeting, a variety of great member input and ideas were shared with the board and I’d like to be able to help implement some of these ideas for the benefit of our COOP.

I bring to the table a strong leadership, analytical and achievement-oriented skill set to the board. I’ve been Chief of Staff, Educational Coordinator and Event Coordinator at two successful non-profits. I’ve managed contracts and was responsible for a $12,000 side project that was assigned to me while subcontracting for L3 Unidyne in Rhode Island becoming a $3.4M contract acquisition away from Lock Heed Martin. I am a firm believer that a board accomplishes the most by conducting meetings which end with positive results and never loses sight of the bigger picture which is to provide the heartbeat for the organization and not for its own gratification.

I own and run my own online businesses and investments and control my own schedule, I am available to help support initiatives, meetings and events minus any family medical requirements of my time.

I believe that one of the most relevant actions that a board can partake in is development of robust and relevant fundraising campaigns. These are always great opportunities to use their experience, contacts and influence to positively affect community outreach and engagement. And of course, effective financial decision making to support the organization.

I have also volunteered at the COOP by power washing the outside grill area before it’s reconstruction, suggesting new vendors and participating in the “Fill the shelf program”

Over the years Myself and my family have regularly made the COOP a place we do a bit of our shopping regardless of season or weather. Refilling those shelves with a variety of new items and old favorites would be one of my first initiative so that we can once again adequately provide for our community’s needs and reinvigorate the COOP’s 60% profit margin, on those shelves, which currently lays bare for all to see.

We all want the COOP to survive! There is too much history and fond memories not to want our little “hole in the wall” to succeed.

Martin Pittman

Why do you wish to serve on the Coop board?
In this interesting and challenging time for the Coop, I relish the opportunity to enhance the partnership and collaboration better the membership, the Board and store management. All of us have a role to play in getting the Coop back on firm footing, and to becoming again what we want it to be for our community and ourselves. Having been a Coop member and customer for over 20 years, I recognize that now is an appropriate time to step up my involvement, and I look forward to doing so.

What particular qualifications do you have which suit you to Coop board service?I work from home, involved in international development and humanitarian assistance, with a strong background in community development and organizational capacity building. I have specific and practical experience in strategic planning, project management, including budgeting, (some) financial tracking, and staff recruitment and training. I am a collaborator and consensus-builder, effective at working in.

How much time per week will you be able to commit to board work?
I work from home (though with periodic travel), and so have a degree of flexibility with my time. I anticipate having 3-5 hours/week available, though also recognize that we are in an acute situation that may require additional effort.

Are you willing to actively help fundraise for the Coop?
Yes, and I also bring an understanding that fundraising is most effective and sustainable when it promotes solidifying our customer base. As such, I am also committed to supporting management and promotion of the store itself.

Have you previously volunteered at the coop?
No, but now is the time!

How have you actively contributed to the well-being of the coop itself over the years?
We have been active customers for over 20 years, having increased our commitment to do more of our shopping there. Recently, we have contributed to the GoFundMe campaign and have purchased the $25 ‘pre-pay’ cards.

What in your business background would contribute to the fiscal well-being of the coop?
As noted, my professional background involves project management that I can ably apply to the needs of the Coop.

Julie Shively

Why do you wish to serve on the Coop board?
I would like to lend a hand.

What particular qualifications do you have which suit you to Coop board service?
I managed the co-op from the late 70s and, with my husband, coordinated the building of the present co-op. My position was as operations manager. I have an understanding of the business structure of consumer co-ops and the need to serve everyone in the community, member or not, who might use the co-op.

Are you willing to actively help fundraise for the Coop?
Yes.

How much time per week will you be able to commit to board work?
Probably 2-3 hours (not counting the “Brains and Booze” Friday night pizza gatherings.)

Have you previously volunteered at the coop?
I started working as a volunteer for the Shutesbury-Leverett Co-op in the late 70s and soon became co-coordinator. In the mid-1990s, under my management and with the assistance of my husband Dan Bennett, the co-op moved from Shutesbury Center to the former LaClaire’s Store at Moore’s Corner and ultimately across the street to its present location. The building which currently houses the co-op was built with the help and generous volunteerism of the community. While managing the co-op I took accounting at UMass to better understand financial management. 

How have you actively contributed to the well-being of the coop itself over the years?
Yes – beginning in the late 70s picking up apples and cider. Shopping there and being supportive of management, having a real knowledge of the difficulty of that task.

What in your business background would contribute to the fiscal well-being of the coop?
I have been doing the books for small businesses and non-profits for over 20 years, having acquired that skill when working as manager of the co-op. I am currently Treasurer of the Co-op. In 1995 I went with my family to China to teach English at university for a couple of years. Upon return from China the co-op’s accountant, Gerald Hersh, asked me to take up bookkeeping, stating “At least you know what a balance sheet is”. Although in my mind it was to be temporary, I have been doing this for small businesses and non-profits since then. My tasks extend from payroll to financial management and consulting, depending on the client. This has given me real insight into what it takes to operate a small business.

Karen Traub

Karen Traub

I live in Shutesbury with my husband Frank and we have been members of the Village Coop and Greenfield’s Market for over 25 years. I believe in coop principles and hope my experience on boards and my positive energy can be of value in helping the Coop move forward.

An acupressurist  since 1991 and professional belly dancer since 2002, I am familiar with the running of small businesses and nonprofits and am an active community volunteer.

I have served on town boards and committees including Library board of trustees in Wendell and Shutesbury, Library Facility Needs Assessment Committee, Library Fundraising Committee, and Shutesbury 250th Anniversary Steering Committee. In 2014 I was appointed to the State Advisory Council of Libraries which awards Library service and technology grants to libraries across the state.

A member of the  Wendell Full Moon Coffeehouse committee since 1995 I am a great believer in putting the *fun* in fundraising.

I have a Master’s Degree in Management from Cambridge College and am a graduate of Mass Leadership Institute for Public and Political Impact through the Women’s Fund of Western

My kids have launched, my parents are gone, I work part time so I have time to give. Most importantly, I believe in coops and community and am willing to do what I can to help the coop go forward.

Messages from the President of the Board:

January 24, 2020

We had more than seventy members turn out for our January 22 Annual Meeting once again showing the high level of commitment and support for the Leverett Village Co-op.  We’re lucky to have a talented and dedicated group of ten candidates running for the 8 open board positions. We heard from all of them at the meeting, leaving no doubt that they all would be able to make a valuable contribution to the Board.

Per are Co-op by-laws members will be able to cast their ballots for board members in the Co-op store for seven days after Annual Meeting, until noon on January 30. Candidate background is posted in the store and on our web site, above.

Thanks to everyone for turning out on Tuesday and making it such a great meeting displaying the incredible expertise, commitment and positive energy of our Leverett Village Co-op community.

Please come by the Co-op and vote, enjoy the café and shop.  More details will be coming out soon about the survival plan, the time-line and ways that you can volunteer to help our Co-op.  We’re looking forward to building on all the strengths of our Leverett Village Co-op,

Susan Lynton
President
Leverett Village Co-op
president@leverettcoop.com

 

December 16, 2019

An urgent update from the Co-op Board President

In the interest of keeping members informed on the Co-op finances before it’s too late to turn something around, I’d like to give you an update on a recent steep decline in sales caused by the bad winter weather, the usual seasonal decline, and a sharp decrease in people shopping at the market and eating/drinking in the café.  

If you value our local market and café, the key message here is: PLEASE COME IN, SHOP IN THE MARKET, HAVE A BITE TO EAT, AND ENJOY OUR CO-OP WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS. Although we still don’t have the large selection of items that people would like to see, your shopping with us will allow us to expand the products on the shelves. 

There’s lots of good news as recent fundraising efforts set our finances on an upward track as we paid off a good portion of our debts and restocked the shelves with popular products. Talented volunteers are working at all levels from energy conservation to fundraising to marketing to continue the turn-around.

BUT, WE CAN’T SURVIVE IF PEOPLE DON’T COME IN TO SHOP AND VISIT THE CAFÉ THIS WINTER.  We need to sell product in order to be able to restock and expand our offerings. WE NEED LOCAL SHOPPERS TO GET THROUGH THE WINTER.

I’m sending out this message now as it will be even more difficult if the current severe snow, rain, ice, fog weather this winter continues. If so, there will be many weather (and holiday) days when people just can’t’ get to the store. We need to have good sales days in between the storms.

 The Co-op needs to bring in an average of $15,000 a week to break even and be able to restock the shelves. The past two weeks with Thanksgiving and the severe weather we’ve only brought in an average of $10,400 a week. 

Thank you for all your support and hard work to sustain our local Co-op. I’ll continue to update you on the finances.  I hope to be writing about the up-swing in sales in the market and café soon.

Susan Lynton
President
Leverett Village Co-op
president@leverettcoop.com

 

December 9, 2019

Thank you to the more than 40 people who turned out this past Tuesday night to brainstorm on a vision for sustaining the Leverett Village Co-op. A special thanks to members Danielle Barshak, Ann Ferguson, Tom Woolf who facilitated and Kari Ridge who documented the session that resulted in important membership input…great feedback for the Board.

The meeting format engaged most members in the audience in a lively discussion listing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the Co-op.  It ended with people offering, and finally ranking, proposals on things that the members want for their market and café.  I hope we’ll be able to have membership input sessions like this at least twice a year.   

            The Co-op is launching our “buy a shelf” and “spend $25 more a week than you currently spend” campaigns to encourage use of the Co-op.  My next mail will lay out the specifics of these campaigns and what traction we are getting with your support.  Look for more information in the store. Ann Walsh and Melissa Murkette are happy to assist you if you ask for them at the store.

            As we mentioned, your donations are great and we need more of them, but we also need you to make the Co-op a place where you shop and/or eat several times a week.  We have great food in the café and with your donations we have purchased new inventory in the market.  Come shop and hang out in the café with family and friends.  If you have ideas about how we can grow our customer base, we want to hear them.  

Currently, seventy percent of our revenue comes from non-members. Only 100 of 800 members spend more than $100 a year at the Co-op.  All of you have told us that you want a local store, so please vote by shopping and visiting the cafe.  

Susan Lynton
President
Leverett Village Co-op  
president@leverettcoop.com

 

December 4, 2019

Dear Leverett Village Co-op Community –

I am happy to announce due to your generous donations, loans, and our own efforts, the Co-op has retired $60,000 in debt. 

The business plan on our website (linked here) is based on focus groups, a survey and the data analytics that we have been able to understand over time. The important part of the plan is the strategy. The financial situation of the Co-op has been analyzed in multiple ways to satisfy the needs of each bank to which we have applied, and was approved by the board as required by each bank before submitting.

This plan does not include all the documentation that is available, it simply reflects a point in time and is dated accordingly. The process of creating the financial part of the plan requires updating monthly and adjusting our overall projections.

Any questions about the strategy and business document, and our plans for the future should be directed to the current board at: president@leverettcoop.com.

Susan Lynton
President
Leverett Village Co-op  

 

November 30, 2019

Dear Leverett Village Co-op Community –

I hope you’re all refreshed after some relaxing holiday times and ready for our first big winter snow event. This is the third of regular messages that I am posting to report on the Co-op’s progress and what the Board and other volunteers are doing to sustain the Co-op

One of the top questions the Board gets is: what is the Board’s plan to turn the Co-op’s finances around and make it a sustainable market and café? My second message outlined specific areas that Board members and volunteers are working on… regular communication like this one is a big one to keep you informed.

As the Board speaks with members, we realize that people were not aware that the Board has been working on a turn-around-plan since our Market Analysis study in 2018. People saw the changes in the café and store but didn’t understand the financial need and the master plan behind it.

The study was based on numerous local focus groups as well as a marketing survey done under the direction of Board President, Heather Hutchison, data from our sales, input from store customers, and current grocery trends. The low-point that the Co-op’s finances reached this fall was a result of a steady 10-year decline in Co-op sales. Following the 2018 business analysis, which highlighted the demographic and marketing challenges facing the Co-op, the Board took immediate action to transition to a more sustainable Co-op model. The move to grow the café, a popular community gathering place, to sustain the grocery market is a current trend in even the largest of supermarkets as well as smaller grocery venues.

I hope you will be able to read the Business Plan (linked here) and better understand the decisions that the Board has made over the past year. I think you’ll appreciate that our decisions were based on some very dire financial situations as well as marketing data and research that highlighted sustainable directions for the Co-op. We’ll continue to work to better articulate the direction the Co-op is going and how this works for the good of the community.

If you prefer to read a hard copy, soon we’ll have copies for you to read while you relax over lunch or a coffee break at the Co-op. Please direct any questions or suggestions about what you see in the plan to me by email. We are constantly adjusting the projections as we receive donations, loans, pre-paid purchase cards, and historical data on the store’s performance.

Hope to see you at the Members’ Meeting on Tuesday, December 3 at Leverett Town Hall at 7PM.

Susan Lynton
President
Leverett Village Co-op  

 

November 26, 2019

Dear Leverett Village Co-op Community –

This is my second of regular messages that I will be sending out to keep you up-to-date with information on Board action and progress the Co-op is making to turn our beloved market and café around. My goal is to keep each letter short.

With the influx of new members on the Board at our meeting last week, the Board has divided up the workload to make progress on several fronts that will secure the Co-op’s financial footing. Here are a few of the highlights of our work:

  1. The Executive Committee is pursuing future financial support from the Franklin County Community Development Corporation and Pioneer Valley Grows. Because of all the recent media articles on the Co-op and its problems, some organizations are trying to help us, realizing the importance of maintaining small grocery stores in rural areas.
  2. Board members Sam Black and Pat Fiero are also looking into how we might secure a USDA-backed loan and other financing vehicles.
  3. The Marketing Committee meets weekly and is gearing up to do a survey to determine what products our shoppers want us to stock. Please watch for and answer our future survey questions. After Thanksgiving, River Valley Market will give our buyer, Melissa Murkette, a one day tutorial on how they determine what products to stock for each market segment.
  4. Tim McNerney, having been on the solar committee at River Valley Market many years ago, is looking into how to lower our electrical bills and will research solar energy grants and loans.
  5. Jono Neiger and Cheryl Bonica are organizing a Board Retreat in early December to bring the board together and prepare them for the work ahead.
  6. Julia Shively, newly elected treasurer, is working with Joyce Urwin on financials and will be looking into doing an immediate transfer to Quickbooks, which is something she has done for other small businesses that she supports in her accounting practice.

It’s an exciting time as we have many community volunteers coming forward to help with the workload and share their expertise.  We’re very thankful for their interest and support.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family.

Susan Lynton
President
Leverett Village Co-op  

 

November 21, 2019

Dear Leverett Village Co-op Community –

All of us connected to the Leverett Village Co-op community have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season. We’re especially thankful for all the member and public support that has come forward to support and revitalize the Co-op.

It’s been a difficult but exciting time for all of us who love the Leverett Village Co-op and want to see it continue as a local market and gathering place. Difficult because we have to transition the Co-op to a more sustainable business model. Exciting because both long-time and new members, and supporters have come forward to give their time and money to turn the fortunes of the Co-op. There’s been an inspiring combination of creating new offerings in the café and market as well as intense financial scrutiny creating accounting, data collecting, and communication systems that will improve the bottom-line.

This is the first of regular messages I plan to send out to keep you better informed about what’s happening with all our efforts to revitalize the Co-op and ensure that it will be around for many Thanksgivings to come. I pledge to keep these emails short, and provide more details often.

Before I close, I want to share the good news about recent fundraising efforts. Following our informational meetings, the Co-op has received an outpouring of financial, in-kind and volunteer support. I’m happy to report that we have raised over $63,000, most of it since October. This outpouring of help has enabled us to pay off the taxes, as well as pay some of our vendors so that we can restock the shelves.

Please come back often to the Web site for more information. Your questions and suggestions are always welcome and you can contact me or the general manager through our site.

Susan Lynton
President
Leverett Village Co-op