August Member-Owner of the Month: Whit and Barbara Dall

Whit and Barbara Dall, both retired teachers, living in Montpelier, have been members since back in the mid-1980s when the Co-op was at its old location on Barre Street, and members were required to work at the store. Their connection to the world of co-ops goes even farther back, to when they lived in Connecticut and volunteered at a co-op in Middletown. Their involvement at their current co-op includes volunteering at many of our events, including Sustainability Saturday, Annual Meeting, and Holiday Grocery Pack. 

1. You’re long-standing members, has your impression of the Co-op changed since becoming a member-owner?

Whit

For me, it started with a lot of bulk shopping, because there was less packaging, and it was cheaper.  Then, we kind of got away from it with the boom in organic offerings, and we sort of accepted all the packaging for many years. Now, with new recycling laws coming in, I realize how hard it is to get rid of plastic. So, after all these years, I’m coming back to the bulk section. I’ve found it’s really important because I control the packaging. I don’t have to buy everything in plastic or cardboard. 

Barbara

In the early 70s, we did preorders, and there are still some places around that do that.  There was a point person, you would see the list of things you could buy, you would tell them what you wanted, you showed up on the day of the delivery, and you got your food. There wasn’t the expectation that everything would be on the shelf, and you could just go and take it. When I look at the number of boxes of cracker choices I now have, I say ‘oh my goodness.’ It’s a sensory overload. 

2. What is something you love about your Co-op?

Barbara

Besides the bulk section, there’s the Café. There are a lot of folks I know who will meet and do secondary business besides have a meeting. They might meet after lunch or before a class, meet for coffee or tea, and then they talk, they connect. It’s a place where people get to see each other. I always see people I know who I wouldn’t see on the street because they are from other places. 

Whit

This is a great place because we are right on the river and you can admire the view. Plus, the staff here is quite incredible. What I’ve learned about cheese from Bibi, it’s amazing. I just find there’s a lot of knowledge. Laura in the supplements section is a big help.

Barbara

We come in, and she (Laura) knows the manufacturers, their histories, all of that, so you can find out which one might have more of what you want. For a brief time, I was a working member in cheese. Bibi trained me, and I was really impressed with how in-depth her knowledge was. Whenever I come in now, whenever she is here, we chat and connect. I trust her recommendations.

Whit

Also, this is local. You know where this food comes from. You can look at the veggies and know where they came from. That, to me, is very important. 

Barbara

It might be sort of cliché, but unless we support the Co-op, it’s not going to be there, it’s going to go away. Sometimes it costs a little more, and that’s what local sometimes is, in order to keep it local, but that means quality and freshness and a sense of connection. 

3. What are your favorite products?

Whit

I like the beer and wine selection. I also really enjoy the prepared food options. The maple meatloaf the other day was excellent!

Barbara

I like coming in for the Wednesday vitamin day, and the cheeses, because you can’t go wrong with those. The lunch soups are really good. Some other food we’ll come in for, especially if it’s a special treat…

Whit

…I think it’s a cup of coffee and a muffin for me. I also love that, if you’re making an apple pie, you can get ten different kinds of apples, that’s really awesome. And chocolate, it’s really good here. 

Barbara

I like coming around the winter holiday time, that’s my treat. All of the goodies. 

Whit

Really, what’s not to like, there is so much good food here. One thing that I think of as a treat, and I would talk about to convince people to come here, is that the workshops, like the Soul Collage workshop I recently attended, are amazing.