by Cat Klarich
2022 marks the Plainfield Co-op’s 50th year in existence and what a year it has been! From bridge closures to supply chain issues, the Plainfield Co-op showed its resiliency and proved that this little store is truly a cornerstone in the village of Plainfield. Whether you are a member or a regular shopper, we value your support. (And we sure do need it!)
What’s New at the Plainfield Co-op?
The Co-op has transitioned to a co-management structure and is pleased to announce the hire of the Co-op’s very own Stanzi Scribner as the new Administrative Manager! Stanzi has worked at the Co-op for 5 years – starting as a sub, working as a cashier, learning the ropes of buying and receiving, eventually finding her groove as Administrative Assistant. We are excited to work with Stanzi in her new capacity as Administrative Manager. Together with Floor Manager Jezebel Crow and outgoing General Manager Jamie Lewis, the management team is poised to lead the Co-op. It’s a dream team! Staff member Cullen Partin reflects on the new management structure, “We currently have a staff that is in agreement on the nature of our managerial situation… Stanzi being promoted to manager duties strengthens this consensus and support, as it shows the team (and the community) that we can do this together.”
“You can’t get there from here,” someone said to me when the bridge to the village was closed for repairs. By the time I explained the detour, the bridge was open for traffic. (Fine, it was my brother, and he never visits anyway!) The staff deserve all the credit for mitigating the inconvenience and loss caused by the bridge closure. Whether it meant using a personal truck to pick up an order of perishables or using a neighbor’s freezer (thanks, Dan!) the amazing staff handled this challenge with resolve. As predicted, the bridge closure had a negative impact on our sales – a loss of a sobering approximately $6,000 per week. Treasurer John Cleary offers a detailed financial snapshot in his report.
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Expanding the Co-op
We are excited that the USDA Rural Development Grant process is well underway. Please refer to Rose Paul’s report for details. This grant is a big deal for us as we marry the work we’ve done leading up to this point with the current efforts of volunteers and consultants to assist the membership in assessing our options to stay or move. The straw poll at the annual meeting indicated the membership is open to a move. There is prime real estate for sale on RT 2 – Allenwood Stables and Plainfield Hardware. There is also strong support for the Co-op to stay in the village and expand in place.
Why should we do this feasibility study anyway? It comes down to this basic principle: the Co-op is owned by you, the membership, and the decision to stay or to move requires information and discussion leading up to a vote. Expanding the Co-op is the plan; where is what we are going to find out. This process can be grueling, and we understand folks want results faster than we can deliver. Here’s the deal: the Co-op is not in a strong position to jump on real estate or expand in our current location, without additional information, financials, and a developed business plan. The member-owners need to understand what, when, and how we plan to expand. We are working towards that plan and will keep you, the membership, involved in the process. Please put your trust in the Board and Co-op volunteers as we take time to practice due diligence.
The Board wants to recognize Gaye and Rich Christiansen, owners of Plainfield Hardware, who invited us to discuss this opportunity and have been with us every step of the way – opening up their doors, books, and hearts to help the Co-op “clear the runway” if the members decide on this option. “We just want what is best for the Plainfield Co-op,” Gaye told me recently. Another neighbor, Jonathan Matthew of Allenwood Stables, has also been a cheerleader for the Co-op, hosting an open house for the membership this summer. These neighbors’ community-minded spirit and willingness to work with us, is what makes Plainfield so special.
Welcoming Our New Board Members
I also need to give a shout out to our new Board members: Treasurer John Cleary, Board member Claire Dumas, and Vice President Anne Van Couvering, who have all graciously stepped up. And to Rose Paul, who is now our Secretary. She has taken on a lot and doesn’t hesitate to take on just one more thing. It is a pleasure working with this talented bunch!
Kudos to the amazing Alexis Smith for her gift to the Plainfield Co-op – a beautiful sign displayed on the opposite side of our sign with an homage to the heroic Plainfield Fire Department. Thank you, Alexis!
A special thank you to Glenda Bissex, newsletter editor, who went above and beyond, donating 125 print copies of the fall newsletter to distribute! This newsletter is an important tool for the Board to communicate with the membership and we appreciate the help getting them word out.
More good news – the new and updated website is live! You can check it out here. Please be sure Member Coordinator Leah Tedesco has your email so you don’t miss important information, like golden birthdays or the seasonal sales flyer. You can send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To Our Community
Despite the financial pickle jar we are in, the Plainfield Co-op is still open, providing an essential service to the community. We need the members to rally around the Co-op and simply shop here more, especially during the lean winter months. Please let us know how we can improve by sending an email to email@example.com. Whether it’s rounding up your spare change or volunteering your time on a committee, we value your contributions.
I’ll see you at the Co-op!