Ever since it first began as a basement occupant of a building in Plainfield, Hunger Mountain Co-op has been an important part of the community. Since those early days, when the basement space rent was $5, the Co-op has grown into a local leader in selling organic, natural foods, supporting the community in a wide variety of ways, and helping to sustain and support our local food systems.
We could not have made it these 47 years without the help of countless individuals, including our staff, vendors, and member-owners. Some of those folks have been with us a very long time. We spoke with a few of them, and the following are edited excerpts of those conversations.
Carol Brandt is the owner/baker at Fun Yums Bakery in Moretown, and a vendor whose products have occupied our shelves for some time.
When did you first begin selling your product at the Co-op?
I believe in 2009. This year is my anniversary, as well!
How did selling here impact your product, business, etc.?
Doing farmers markets, it was nice to be able to send customers to you for mid-week sales. It was a win-win for the customer, the Co-op, and myself.
What has been the best part of being a vendor here?
Knowing that you have the customers’ best interest in mind, which is one of my main goals as well. Top-quality is a must, and it shows. You also take great care of vendors!
Linda Workman first joined us when the Co-op was in Plainfield in the early 1970s.
Why did you first become a member-owner at the Co-op?
I moved to Marshfield in 1974 and soon joined what was the Plainfield Co-op. At that time, we were bulk-ordering and breaking down orders in neighbors’ homes. I joined so that I could buy the best food possible, whether it was flour, rice, cheese, or fruits and vegetables. It was also a great way to meet folks, many of whom are still good friends to this day. Sometime later, a storefront opened in Plainfield, and I was a member there too. And now, for many years, I’ve been a member-owner of the Hunger Mountain Co-op.
What is your favorite thing about the Co-op?
Of course, I particularly love the organic food, especially from local suppliers. Also, the selection, the great staff, the workshops, the annual meeting, and the food/health fair.
How has the Co-op changed since you became a member?
I feel that year by year, the Co-op has become a more integral part of our Montpelier community, and beyond. Staff members are always extremely helpful and accommodating. It’s just a casual and lovely place to shop (and run into friends).
We’re lucky to have many staff members who have been here for years, even decades. A few of them shared their thoughts:
What made you first want to work here?
Patrick, Beer & Wine Buyer, 21 years at the Co-op
In May of 1998, it was supposed to be a summer job. I just fell in love with it here.
What other positions or titles have you had since you first started?
Giles, I.T. Systems Administrator, 20 years at the Co-op
In the 20 years, I have been here, I have been lucky enough to work in many positions across the Co-op, including various positions in the front end, wellness department, and I.T. department, as well as having been the Receiving Manager and the Grocery Buyer.
Elly, Human Resources Assistant, 19 years at the C-op
Produce Stocker, Assistant Deli Manager, MOD substitute, Grocery Stocker substitute, Wellness Clerk substitute, Meat, and Fish Buyer, Assistant Grocery Manager, and now HR Assistant
How has the Co-op Changed in the time you have been here?
Robyn, Member Services Assistant, 16 years at the Co-op
I arrived on the heels of a failed expansion, the beginning of our union, and an exiting general manager. We had just over 2,000 member-owners, and 40% less space. No one had even heard of Facebook or Instagram, not to mention Heady Topper or CBD oil! Kari Bradley became our GM about a year after I started, our building finally expanded in 2008, and we now have over 9,000 member-owners. My job has evolved quite a bit and now involves several social media platforms and a lot less paper! Growth comes with both perks and struggles, and the day to day work in community relations reflects this. As our Co-op has grown, I have personally found my community and my adult self, while watching both customers and staff do the same. We’ve formed families, navigated through life events, witnessed each other’s grief, and celebrated wins. I feel so lucky that I chose to be here 16 years ago!
Please join us on Friday, Sept. 13 for a celebration of the past 47 years with cake at noon and 5:00pm. We’ll also have a raffle that day featuring a Co-op branded canvas bag, Co-op branded Klean Kanteen, and a $47.00 Co-op gift card.