I am writing this from my hotel room at the National Cooperative Grocers spring meeting. One year ago I attended this same meeting as a brand-new GM. Now, I am reflecting on an amazing first year at the Brattleboro Food Co-op – and there is a lot to think about. First, thank you to everyone on the BFC team. You have been patient, kind, and supportive while holding me to the high standard you deserve. To our Board, thank you for being such vibrant thought partners and for your service to our community. And of course thank you to our shareholders, who embody the spirit of all that we endeavor to build. A lot has happened in the last year. Wage adjustments, people changes, catching up on deferred maintenance, food inflation — these are just a few of the things we experienced this year. And of course, for me, everything that happened this year was a ‘first’ at the Co-op. I am grateful for the learning and growth that the past year has provided.
As we enter the last quarter of our fiscal year, we are now engaged in our planning process for our next, starting in July. This planning process includes the development of a vision, mission, and strategy for the BFC that will ensure we serve our Ends Policies, and will act as a framework for future planning. Once we can clearly articulate what we want to accomplish, we will consider how to bring that vision to life. What do we prioritize? Why? What can we do in one year? What may take five? Who will lead different initiatives? What resources are needed? What is the cost and return on investment? In short, our plan will not just include the ‘what’, but will also include the who, when, how, and why necessary to ensure that we have a roadmap to make our vision a reality.
Central to our planning is an understanding of what our community needs. Of course, we exist to meet our shareholders’ needs as articulated by our Board through our Ends policies. But the needs of our community have continued to evolve since our Co-op was founded. Almost fifty years ago our founders formed the BFC to meet our shareholder needs for access to affordable, healthy, organic food. That need still exists, to be sure, but our world has also changed. Our community has changed. Our industry has changed. Environmental sustainability and economic access to food are now critical issues that we must address. We must evolve and change to survive financially to continue to serve our original mission and meet the emerging needs of our current and future shareholders. As the Board and I have shared, this includes a renewed focus on environmental sustainability and income inequality.
Our plan will focus heavily on building the financial health necessary to meet these evolving needs. As mentioned in last month’s article, we will soon be sharing details about upcoming changes to our discount structure. We are excited about new growth opportunities with Potash Hill and the Marlboro Music Festival. And, of course, the imaginative team at the Co-op has no shortage of ideas. From EV charging stations and solar farms to edible insects and cooperative daycare, rest assured the BFC staff is a creative, passionate team committed to ensuring that the Brattleboro Food Co-op remains a healthy mother tree for many years to come. So after one year, I can say it is an honor to serve our Board, staff, and shareholders, and I look forward to many more years of cooperation with you all!
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer
By Lee Bradford, General Manager