It Takes a Village to Keep a Co-op

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by Jezebel Crow

Writing this on the New Moon before the Solstice, I have been reflecting on the darkest days of the year. It is promising to be a wild winter. It seems every Monday morning, the roads have been slippery, and folks are dealing with electricity outages. It is the opposite side of the coin from the floods in Mid-July, when there were many roads completely washed away and it took us weeks to get back to “normal.”

It seems that tricky, unpredictable weather is the new normal. And, with that, keeping resources local is of the utmost importance. If we could all walk down to the village store to shop and work, how much driving would that reduce? How easy does it make your life, people of Plainfield, to be able to walk across the street for coffee, and eggs, bacon, and milk? How much do you depend on your neighborhood grocery store?

How would you feel on the day that you wake up, the river is high, the roads are icy, trees are down, and lo and behold, the “Plainfield” Co-op is now in East Montpelier? I bet the folks at Maplefields will really appreciate your business.

Villages need their little stores. It is integral to the character of rural Vermont. I live in Woodbury. The first Summer I lived there, the General Store was still open. I was in awe that I could walk a mile down the hill, get a pizza, fill a growler, pick up butter or potatoes. Woodbury lost its little store in town. That building is now an apartment and the store is probably never coming back. I think of this often when I must drive to Hardwick or Cabot for supplies.

Here in Plainfield, we have a darling little store. It’s been here for 51 years. Its roots go deep. Sure, it is not competitive with Price Chopper or Hunger Mountain Co-op, but the Plainfield Co-op is here when you need it. And you might find that, with weather chaos and changing climate, you need it more and more.

In the past year as Operations Manager, I have worked hard to streamline the business. We have chipped away at debts accrued by previous mismanagement and slowed down our spending to reflect need. We might not net $1,000,000 this year. It would be the first year since 2013. But it is OK to be small. It is OK to be local.

By the end of October 2022, we had lost $102,658. This year, as of the end of October we were only $25,170 in the red. This is still a loss, but not a huge one. If we could make $2500 more per month, which is an average day’s sales, we would break even. Which is all we really need to do.

It takes a village to keep a Co-op. If everyone who is reading this newsletter would pledge to spend an additional $10 a week at the Co-op, that would close the gap.

These are the darkest days of the year, but they say it’s always darkest before the dawn. We will be here this winter, the improbable store, with local roots and syrup and bacon and eggs and greens and candles and fresh baked bread, and milk and butter and whatever you need from us. It’s my wish and my intention that we will continue to serve the Village of Plainfield from the Village of Plainfield for many more years to come.

Back to Contents page – Winter 2023-24 Issue

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