Rescue Plan Task Force Proposal
Leverett Village Coop February 2020 v4

Click HERE to download the PDF (82 KB)

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