For the past 4 years the Co-op Board and our General Manager have been honing our vision for the future of the Putney Food Co-op. We are acutely aware of the need for improvement in the deli and cafe area and for improved flow throughout the store. In 2013, we launched a market study and hired National Co+op Grocer Development Coop to do a pre-expansion feasibility study and plan for us. A $1.5 million dollar expansion and renovation was proposed, but after careful consideration, we realized that the scope of the project was out of balance with Putney’s needs and had been inflated by the increase in sales due to the relocation project at the Brattleboro Co-op and the closing of the General Store.
While it was clear the initial larger, more costly, project wasn’t in our collective best interest, we still had a congestion issue in the store and untapped potential in our Deli; something still needed to happen. We went back to the drawing board with a focus on a streamlined project that would meet all key needs, optimize our potential and be fiscally responsible.
Our General Manager, Robyn O’Brien, and her Department Managers have been working with a Deli/Prepared Food specialist and a store designer who work nationally with CDS Consulting Co-op to look at how we can maximize the space we currently have as well as some additional space to serve our members and shoppers in ways that best meet your needs. They are building on the insights and lessons from the improved productivity allowed by the minor kitchen remodel and refining of systems last year. A conceptual design is underway and will be discussed with the store designer.
A proforma – a detailed financial spreadsheet that models anticipated results based on different scenarios – has been designed for our store. Robyn is working with the experts we have access to through our co-op associations to ensure that we move forward in a way that is dynamic and responsive to our community.
The Board is building our knowledge of how a major improvement project like this happens and we are planning an all day retreat in the coming weeks to discuss the project. One of the things we will be examining is the various ways to finance a project like ours and what is in the best interest of our cooperative and members.
As we stand on the threshold of the next era of the Putney Food Co-op, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on the project. We plan to have more information to share with you in the near future; space will be dedicated in the store and online to keep members up to date as things progress. One of the essential measures of our success as a co-op is the good we are able to do in and around Putney. We’re excited for this opportunity to grow our Co-op and the ripple effects that growth has into our community through more healthy, local food available to members and shoppers, more quality jobs in the store and increased local purchasing.
Submitted by Ori Fifield, on behalf of the Putney Food Co-op Board of Directors