Greetings from the Co-op!
I hope you are enjoying the summer weather and, at last, the opportunity to get together with friends and family. Thank you for all the notes of support and feedback over the past 17 months as we have navigated the pandemic together. It is gratifying to be part of a cooperative community that looks out for each other. Here is a quick summary of some timely topics:
Like most organizations in Vermont these days, our co-op is struggling to find new employees. The state is experiencing a shortage of people seeking work for a variety of reasons, and the service industry seems to be particularly impacted. You may have seen our advertisements and other outreach to prospective job candidates. Some days our shortages may translate to a missing product or longer lines. Specifically, our Prepared Foods department’s ability to fulfill catering requests and special orders is very limited. We are doing the best we can with the resources we have. Fortunately, our co-op offers a great work environment with reasonable pay and excellent benefits, so we should be able to weather this storm until the labor market stabilizes. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through this challenge. You can find our open positions on our website.
We are pleased to see that many customers are taking advantage of our recently reopened food bar. The tent we are using for outdoor seating seems to be working well, so we will keep that in place through August. Our café and deck will remain closed for now, providing staff with a little more room to operate. Also, in August, we plan to restart our demo program. We will start gradually and offer samples outdoors near the entryway to gauge customer interest.
In other Covid-related topics, we continue to strongly encourage those who are unvaccinated to wear a facial covering at the Co-op. We will also continue to allow members to have others shop for them using their membership cards/numbers. Eventually, we will return to a more strict “one member, one membership” policy as called for in Co-op bylaws, but the current arrangement allows more flexibility.
We are, of course, very fortunate that local vaccination rates are high and Covid case rates remain relatively low. Safety is still our top priority, though, so Co-op staff continues to monitor data and trends in case we need to take further action. The increase nationally has us concerned enough that we will start to consider scenarios whereby the Co-op might reinstitute masking or other precautions. We approach this work utilizing the best science available, incorporating employee and member input, and doing our best to balance safety and shopper needs and expectations. As we have since this all began, we will do our very best to communicate any changes well in advance. Thank you for all of your support.
See you in the aisles,
Kari Bradley, General Manager