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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

What Brattleboro Really Needs Is A Food Co-op


A real food co-op just like the one we used to know. One where most of the work is done by working members. One where most of the produce is local. One where you can’t select from over 100 varieties of wine or countless designer beers. One where most of the food is nitty-gritty real food, affordable by ordinary people, not high end gourmet stuff.

 What we have now is indistinguishable from a Whole Foods Market or a Trader Joes, except our prices are a little higher.

I’ve been a member of the Co-op since the days on Flat Street. As I’ve watched the “devolution”, I’ve watched the prices go up.

I have decided today that I can no longer afford to shop there.

 I don’t cook very much at home. I live alone, and cleaning up after cooking is an unpleasant chore. As a result, I buy a lot of Deli items.

Over the last year or so, I’ve watched the price go up from $5.95 a pound for simple salad items (like edamame and corn, couscous and raisins, or wheatberry salad. etc.) to $7.95. Today I noticed the price is creeping
up to $8.95.

 Price Chopper is not an option. Their Deli section sucks. The prices are cheaper (muchly so), but the selection is poor, mostly confined to potato salad-like stuff and tuna fish (what the poor folks buy).

Hannaford is a little better. They have pre-packaged stuff like Orzo-Artichoke Salad and “Cowboy Caviar” (a mix of beans and vegetables) for $4.99. On the high end they offer “Fresh Kale Superfood Salad” for $6.99
(quite nice).

 I also like fresh fruit, especially bananas and berries. Here, Aldi has it all over anybody else – hands down. The prices change all the time, but blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries (Driscoll’s) are usually in the $2.00 range. Grapes $2.95 (but you get 2 pounds). Bananas are 39¢. Organic bananas are 69¢.

 I regularly buy Kefir from Aldi. As long as you’re satisfied with only blueberry or strawberry flavor, they’re $2.49, Sometimes they have other flavors for $2.69. At the Co-op, they range from $3.49 to over $4.00.

 I regret this. I love co-ops and the whole co-operative movement. I wish our Co-op could be competitive, but the “nut” they have to crack in order to pay off the new building prohibits this. I predict that increasingly rising prices will create a downward “death spiral” and they will have to sell out to Whole Foods. At least the prices will go down.

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Yeah But....

Maybe you can get local 1459 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union to lower the prices. I would think they'd want what's best for the employees.
They certainly wouldn't want to Co op to close now would they.

 
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hahahahah

1459 is in Massachusetts, Mr. Mike.
The coop being sued is the real threat to it closing. The mgmt didn't pay the contract bills. If you pay attention. But don't let facts and accuracy get in the way, carry on trolling!

 
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Trader Joe?

I agree with many of Tomaid's concerns, but I do think that it is hyperbole to say that the BFC is no different than Whole Foods or Trader Joe's.

 
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Being Poor

I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for someone who complains about being poor and then insists on eating out most of the time. The Coop has an amazing assortment of items that can be cooked to provide nutritious meals at a fraction of the $5/lb to $6/lb that this author is so pleased with. Attend one of their cooking on a budget tours and you'll be amazed.

As for Aldi -- the 69¢/lb for bananas is barely lower than the Coop's 79¢/lb. You will pay about a nickle more per banana. And which place would you rather work at, Sir? When I go into Aldi's it feels like a sterile, sugary ghost town. The Coop has its quirks and issues, but it is bustling with community activity and does tremendous good to our town and region on so many levels.

You are an electrician, no? Why not barter some substantial electric job for someone teaching you low-budget cooking and occasional washing of dishes?

 
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I agree. Eating deli meals

I agree. Eating deli meals every day is an expensive way to eat. For about $25 a person could make themselves some healthy, inexpensive meals- enough to last several days. It doesn't take a lot of time or skill, for that matter, to eat well. Steam a couple of big bunches of kale; cook a pot of brown rice or quinoa; chop up a few veggies and mix all that together with a handful of herbs and you have the basis for any number of good meals. The co- op is very expensive and they often don't have some of the most basic things like fresh herbs. I shop there for bulk spices and cornmeal; lentils and other grains but that's about it. It doesn't have to cost a fortune to eat good meals but you have to be willing to dirty a couple of pots and pans occasionally.

 
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You are an electrician, no?

No, I'm not an electrician, and never was. I do electrical work for no pay at Brattleboro Time Trade.
I am retired, and living on Social Security.
My days of cooking are far behind me.

 
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It's Not That Bad

Some of the things at the coop are definitely a bit pricey, but overall, I've found it to be cheaper than Whole Foods, higher quality than Trader Joes, and significantly higher quality than Aldi's and Price Chopper. I remember asking for grass fed beef at PC one time. They looked me like I had three heads. Yes, you pay a premium for it, but there is a significant difference in the quality of food at the coop, especially with cake, meat and cheese.

For anyone who lives downtown, the location is very convenient. If you plan your shopping right, the prices aren't too bad either. The bi-monthly co-op sales provide some good choices, more so if you can combine those with coupons. There's also decent regular prices on certain things, like Grafton 1 year cheddar, Murray's boneless chicken, plain cream cheese, etc. The lines are generally managed well. Subjectively, I find the atmosphere far less depressing than Price Chopper, and don't mind paying a little extra to spoil myself.

 
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Replace Aldi's with Trader

Replace Aldi's with Trader Joe's (aren't they brothers) and watch the Coop step up it's game. I disagree about the quality of Traders Joes as not up to par, they are affordable, creative, taste delicious, work with local suppliers and have the right vibe going.

 
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More Competition Good Idea

I agree, more competition would be great for consumers. You're also probably right about Trader Joes. I judged them based on experiences from many years ago. Everything I've read about them lately has been extremely positive.

 
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Beans and Rice

I agree with Tom on this one, and always have. I grew up in the era of late 60s food coops and right up through the late 80s, they remained affordable (those that remained). But then Whole Foods came in and co-ops like Brattleboro's got caught up in the glitz.

To those who can afford to do most of their shopping at the BFC, congratulations! You are lucky. But to say that those who can't afford it should try to do so anyway, is like saying "I'll be eating whatever I like, but you can have some of those beans and some rice from the bulk bin." Especially when even the beans and rice are more expensive than almost anywhere else.

 
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Thanks, Lise.

Thanks for putting words in my mouth, Lise, and then shooting them down. I guess you could win just about any argument that way.

 
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Comments in general

I wasn't thinking about you, Will, or anyone in particular, when I commented above. It's just a general vibe I get that people who strongly support the co-op think we all should, and more importantly, should never criticize. I will say again -- I'm not directing this at you. But am I allowed to criticize? Anything? I'm not sure anymore.

As for the Co-op, I would love them to continue and to succeed, even if I can only buy things there occasionally. That said, a good old-fashioned food co-op, like the one I used to go to in Baltimore and even in Boston, would be a nice addition but will never happen so I'm going to carry on shopping at Hannaford, with occasional trips to the Co-op for the things I buy exclusively there.

 
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Sorry?

Sorry, Lise, but who said, or implied, that you are not allowed to criticize? I fail to understand why you would even write that. I strongly support the coop because I see it as an embodiment of an alternative economic model that expressly does not hold profit paramount. At the same time, I have plenty of criticism for the Coop, and I make that criticism as constructively as possible with a goal of helping the Coop to improve. Venting one's spleen on an internet forum is not constructive criticism.

I do not think that everyone should support the Coop, in fact if people like Rush Limbaugh or Ted Cruz or Dart Everett or Donald Trump did -- people who do esteem profit above all else, then I would call them hypocrites. At the same time, I call people hypocrites who criticize the voracious nature of corporate capitalism yet shop at Price Chopper or Hannafords, especially if they complain about being poor yet are eating take-out food.

My suggestion to anyone following this thread who agrees with the initial post is to attend the Coop's Shareholder Forum that's been happening the third Sunday of the month for quite a while now. The Greenfield Coop offers bulk purchases at 10% above wholesale, which is about what members of a food-buying club would pay but with a whole lot less work. When our Coop's profit margin is healthy enough, perhaps that could be offered here as well, if enough shareholders asked for it.

 
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a little clarification

I think I need to add a little clarification to my post.
Thanks for putting words in my mouth, Will. If you’ll read my post, I never complained about being poor. I don’t consider that I am. I live on Social Security, a form of insurance: the proceeds of an investment I made all of my working life. That doesn't make me poor. I have my basic needs met. Luxuries beyond that are always negotiable.
What I did say is “I have decided today that I can no longer afford to shop there.”
Perhaps a poor choice of words. It referred to a decision I made, rather than an actual state of existence. I should have said something like Chris: “there are many things I'd love to have but can't justify.”
I cooked for many years. I was pretty good at it. They used to call me a “wizard with a wok”. However, I grew tired of “wok and rice” food and even more tired of “meat and potatoes” type meals.
I still enjoy things like wheatberry salad and “Cowboy Caviar” (a mix of corn, beans and vegetables), but I haven’t figured out how to make them myself in single portions. And making them in practical quantities means either I eat the same thing every day for a week, or I throw a lot of food out.
Ergo, I buy them as take-out food. As I said, luxuries are always negotiable.
So, it’s not that I can’t afford to pay coop prices; I can, and sometimes, will. It’s that I choose the luxury of takeout food, and I choose to cater to that luxury where the prices are lower.
BTW, the deli prices at the Greenfield Co-op ARE lower, and I’m in Northfield and Bernardston every Thursday; it’s only 5 more miles to the Co-op. Plus I can get an rCredits discount. I think I’ll shop there more often.
BBTW, “the voracious nature of corporate capitalism” is not a criticism, it’s reality.
BBBTW. I used to be an active member of the Wardsboro Food Co-op. We gentrified ourselves out of existence

 
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It's costly

Aside from herbs and a few items when they're on sale, I haven't afforded the coop in many years. And I cook 99.9% of my meals. Price Chopper has plenty of natural foods I can afford. I got a bag of organic oranges there for $3.99 last week.

 
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Small is beautiful

It may seem counter-intuitive, but research sez people are happier with fewer choices. I am one of them. One day I counted 23 different choices of salsa at the Brattleboro coop.

I am the co-founder and past Board president of a successful store front coop up north, moved here 4 years ago. Sadly, nothing about the Brattleboro coop has drawn me to volunteer in any capacity, and I miss being part of a 'real' coop community. Although I live within walking distance of the Brattleboro coop, I mostly shop organic at the local chains and go to Putney when I can, where I am (and feel like) a "member" not a "share holder," and happily choose from 3 choices of whatever.

 
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Back to the question...

I'm in the category of occasionally shopping at the Co-op, and my impression is that the prices seem high. Sure, there are a few bargains here and there if one looks and follows sales and such, but it isn't a place I could afford to get all my groceries. I've seen the totals at the cash registers for people with full carts. Ouch!

The food does look fabulous, and there are many things I'd love to have but can't justify.

I think the question here, though, is could Brattleboro support another cooperative venture, buying certain items in bulk for members and competing with what already exists? And who would like to organize it?

A feasibility study of some sort might be a good first step.

There is certainly space in town. The new zoning regs might open up other possible locations as well. A good business plan might get assistance from BDCC and others.

Maybe combine this idea with Dave Cohen's bike delivery efforts and create a mobile, bike-based cooperative?

 
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great conversation

I think is a great conversation to be having because it gets to the heart of Brattleboro's economic issues, the nature of our downtown and the divisions in our community.

As to the co-op, I have been a member since the mid 1980s and have seen many changes of venue. I'm not sure I would want to go back to cement floor and wooden bins, but I do agree that the current co-op is a bit of a food emporium rather than a community co-op. My family shops at BFC, Price Chopper and Hannafords. I shopped at Aldi's once though it was different enough from my shopping habits that I didn't particularly enjoy the experience. I completely respect anyone's decision to shop anywhere for whatever reasons.

We balance price issues with quality and perceived health issues. I like to find good prices on organic vegetables when I can, wherever they appear in town. We like the meat department at the BFC though we don't eat a huge amount of meat. I like the ideals and atmosphere of the BFC but will admit that many items can be purchased for less money at PC or Hannaford's and we do buy things at those stores.

I have noticed the BFC highlighting everyday bargains on some items. I know those items!

Brattleboro for all its vaunted progressive and community ideals is experiencing the same income inequality that the rest of the country is feeling. I personally think that downtown Brattleboro merchants - and BFC - could do a better job of competing for a wider swath of the local community's business. It is not sales taxes that discourage folks from shopping in Brattleboro as much as base prices, selection of goods, parking issues and traffic.

I have to ask - with BFC prices so high, why is the parking lot always full? Because there is a customer base for these food choices. Why can't a store widen its selections and make it possible for all income levels to shop comfortably. Or, more fundamentally, why isn't quality local , organic and healthy food within the reach of more people? I certainly have noticed that Price Chopper, Hanford's and even Walmart have recognized to varying degrees the market for healthy food.

Andy

 
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I loved the old co -op. Even

I loved the old co -op. Even though their prices were a little higher than a traditional food store I thought their quality was good; I loved being able to but bulk or to buy 2 tablespoons of some expensive herb or spice if I was trying a new recipe. But, for me, the larger draw was the feeling of community; you could go in the old store any day of the week and run into someone you hadn't seen in awhile; stop and have a chat and continue on to your shopping. It had the feel of a neighborhood business. The new co-op does not have that feel. Physically, the layout of the store is very isolating; getting something to eat at the salad or hot bar and then having to walk halfway across the store to get to the seating area is ridiculous. And, for anyone who has less than perfect eyesight the lighting makes it almost impossible to shop for very long.
I still occasionally run into someone I know at the co op but it doesn't have the same "meeting place" feel that the old co op had. And then, of course, the shock of finding that items you had purchased for years had doubled in price when the new store opened. I belonged to one of the first food "co ops" in Boston - it was held once a week in someone's garage- everyone took turns picking up the produce from various growers ; sorting it and supervising pick ups. Then it moved into a very small storefront in Jamaica Plain - where it remains- and it got a little bigger; had many more offerings but never lost the neighborhood feel.
Now, although I do pick up spices and some bulk items from the co op I do most of my shopping at Price Chopper or Hanafords with a run to Trader
Joe's in Hadley every 6 weeks or so. I wait for the Farmers Markets to get my local, organic produce and a dose of the feeling of community and neighborhood that I used to be able to find at the BFC.

 
 #

1975

The first Coop I joined was in St Paul Minnesota, in 1975. It was a dirty place, cold and we all had to volunteer hours, that was the membership fee. And it was a lot of bulk stuff, flour,rice, can goods and the only real savings was wild rice from the Boundary Waters. The good old days, I guess...but that's what a coop looked like then.

I have belonged to the Coop in Bratt on and off over the years, but not since the new version. It's not that I don't want to, I like to support the community as I like the ideals, but just haven't gotten around to renewing. But I will say, the few times I dropped in this winter, the lot was packed and so was the store. Clearly a number of people like it. We got some great products that we normally can't get. We don't have access to Trader Joes or Whole Foods, so going to the Bratt Coop is pretty special. My only complaint is the place is kind of dark (don't wear sunglasses!) But the workers and volunteers were pretty cool. And they had it all, no second stops.

 
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Emergency!

I ran out of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint this morning. (The only soap I use - even for shaving). The only place I have seen to buy this is the Co-op (or other local Co-ops). So I bopped down to the Co-op to buy a bottle. To my pleasant surprise, it was on special - a buck off for the large size. And I saved another buck because of Senior Discount Day. Praise the Lord!
On the negative side, Canal Street was backed up all the way to the 3 Stones. When I returned, it was almost as bad.
Seems to me that the town just finished paying beaucoup bucks to get the traffic lights fixed. I think they got screwed!
It's also bad trying to go left from the Co-op lot. Sometimes the traffic backs up nearly to the Elm St side of the lot. One day, I saw a UPS driver get out of his truck (about 10 cars back)and walk up to the front to stop Canal St. traffic so the cars could get out. Seems the light was stuck on red.

 
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Looking Back it would have

Looking Back it would have been better if the planners behind the scenes could have conceived a cut through to Canal on back side of lot to alleviate some of the traffic flow issues that already persisted, but the colossal imprint and shear magnitude of this ambitious building project did not allow for even this amount of extra space overshadowed to the point the building blocks views and sunlight, but I guess you could say that about any building of this scale. I'm just not sure this particular area was the place to provide additional apartments in high rise fashion for the down town when the burn out apartment area across the street could have been taken advantage of.

 
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"Food for Thought"

In the event you may have missed the following, written by Bratt Food Coop GM Alex Gyori in a recent "Food for Thought" i pass it along here. Attempting to come to grips with how to frame the question after a recent meeting of persons involved in coops in the region, Alex wrote:

"Understanding how to reinvent themselves to meet changing and evolving needs of their owners, Co-op Café participants pointed out that food co-ops need to maintain a clear distinction between growth designed for the benefit of people and growth created solely for the purpose of making money for a select few. The challenge is how to maintain and manifest core values during times of transition and change, while recognizing and respecting the variety of motivations and sometimes contradictory ideas that inspire the diverse cooperative membership."

http://www.brattleborofoodcoop.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=art...

 
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Rotten Eggs

Overall, I judge supermarkets and markets by the quality of their eggs. If they can't get eggs right, I don't need to worry about whether they get other foods right. The Brattleboro Food Co-op consistently sells rotten eggs. Hannafords has the best eggs: Nellie's.

I try to avoid grocery stores all together because I consider it an unpleasant chore, but when push comes to shove I buy food at Price Chopper, Hannaford's, Dutton's, and yes, the Bratt Food Co-op (very little).

 
 #

What Brattleboro Needs ? Vermonters to Live in It.

My Aunt and Uncle , Guilford> West B, have full freezers and still pratice hunting, gathering, and gardening. And Work for their food, at 85 and 86. Saps been running.

Good Idea , do it.

You can start your own buying club. You could start by carpooling towards other areas that offer diverse food, and driving it back. Maybe import some food not found in VT, right now. I know what I would start with, but thats off topic.

All of the stores you are comparing BFC to, are multiple unit operators. The negotiate in volumes to the population of rural areas gets to piggy back on. None of them make as much money here as they do in other densely populated areas.

Margin is THIN. Less than 2%. And the grocery industry in trouble.
Large stores charge slotting fees, ad- buy-ins ( $$$ ) , and use jobbers( little vans outside at 10am) . They use your info via loyalty programs and sell the data they collect from you, over and over again.

Aldis goes where there are Super Walmarts. Trader Joes clusters their stores, and they have left South Hadley as the outpost. Whole Foods has never bought a Coop. Or a 1 store ? stand alone? Plus imagine trying negotiate with the owners of the coop.

Shop at all of them. Shop the Net. Carpool to larger stores. Commit to solving a problem, and do what you want to do, as a motivated , positive person. I miss the 70's.

But please, picking on the store that has withstood every economic turn, and fed this town for 40 years should be appreciated, and if not appreciated, at least respected. I have the highest respect for the management of BFC. I am forever grateful that this store has taken root in the unforgiving soils next to the Whetstone Brook.

I will have to say your words in quotation marks are sinister, IMHO.

What a very rude thing to say, using the words of death. And to sit around commenting like Birds of Prey , is rather goull-ish.

Work together with others who share your taste in food, and create what YOU want.

I grew up here. Brattleboro has ridiculously high costs of rents, taxes, and there are not enough jobs, and proximity to commercial hubs.

What the problem is, is the relative cost of food based on the local economy. Food costs more to sell here, and then add in the BFC is its own buyer and storage. It has more control and skilled labor per sales dollar than ANY of those stores, by 2-3 decimal points.

Theres so much estate for sale. And expensive houses, and really a huge inventory of houses. The problem could be, that the cost of living in VT , is way off scale. What I save in interest, I get to make up in property taxes. BFC, operates with the expenses of Vermont, employs dozens of people, supports local producers, and stays in business for 40 years. It manages to exist throughout over 3 decades, just to be accused of charging what it costs to exist. And attract all kinds of shoppers, not just appealing to the coop demographics of people seeking alternative food.

The cost of food is high at retail. The money farmers make is barely enough to survive. What drives up to cost? Selection, hours, labor, convenience , and feeding the consumers in US, who , like most, are so removed from the memory of scarcity and gratitude. Their profits shrunk , by answering the needs ( sometimes - flighty) of the consumer that the profit of every grocery store is less than 2 % net margin.

When this coop started in mid 70's there was a 8 foot freezer with not enough skus to fill. Average % of produce sales was 10% of whole grocery industry. This coop, bought the 800 things it could sell, and along with all the other coops in US ( WF did start until later) , provided a outlet to the manufacturers and farmers , who have now made 50K SKUS, now available 24 hours a day in some stores.

Yea, Flat Street location = 1979 / BFC and the ENTIRE industry has changed. BFC is more like other stores, and other stores are more like BFC.

What was your group name on Flat Street? Did you ever come and close the Coop on Saturday nights? Unload trucks all day Monday? I put in tons of hours there. It was not a sustainable place to work. I can assure you, as I was close to the staff, and put in more hours than 16 a year (or 8 cleaning) - interesting. 8 hours a year , got you a 20% markup on food. Work 1 day. eat cheap for 355 . wow.

START a BUYING CLUB. Count your blessings you have more than Health Valley Cracker, Ak Mak, Stoned Wheat Thins , Finn Crips and Wasa Crackers,- OH and Carrs Table Wafer, to put your local cheeses on. And be grateful for the work that has done , before 2015, to make it AL:OT easier that 1970- something.

Create your own solution.

The BFC has a retail presence that can serve every single person that is in Brattleboro or passes through Brattleboro. There is amazing selection of food. BFC supports producers with a focus on local first, giving back to the community.

This board lights up over this BFC. Maybe your can focus your concerns and define your own selection of foods. Then cleaning up after dinner won't seem like so much work , comparatively.

Then , at least , if you end up doing actual labor, in gathering for your food supply, you can begin to understand the economy of food distribution, and it may create less of a bitter taste in your mouth to reward the efforts of those who do this work , without you having to ask, or think about it.

>> && BTW , I have a question. Does it seem like BFC is so wasteful in money if they hire non professional ELECTRICIAN! , to work on their property? That to me , is the most shocking thing I have read about their allocation ( under) of money. I don' really want to know any more. OK thats not true. I do. Tell us sometime. Are you sure it all was grounded? and maybe? it was your work that had occasion shorts, and created over-charging? Oh did I just Spark Debate?

Buying Club. I may be in. I need a source of Mexican Coca-cola. 18.99 a cs Costco. Retails $2.00 bottle . Thats a 39 % gross margin, an OK place to start.

Thanks for reading this if you have. Serious about the MxnCoke, need one now.

OMG are we going to debate about white sugar ( 1979 again) coca-cola-minute maid-odwalla? Who said talk was cheap. Maybe complain less and the management would not have to allocate their paid time to field ( and left feild ) everyones food issue.

 
 #

Mexican Coke

We usually have Mexican Coke at Dotties (https://www.facebook.com/DottiesDiscountFoods) - a department of the Coop, next to Experienced Goods. Retails, I think, for around $1.49 @ (don't quote me exactly). ;-) We haven't been selling cases, but talk to Jim if you're there in the daytime.

 
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I'm not sure what you mean

I'm not sure what you mean about Whole Foods never having any 'stand alone' stores? Most of their Massachusetts stores are stand alone buildings - meaning not in a mall on dependent on other stores to bring in customers.
I think the original point being made was that -although people would like to do all their grocery shopping at the co-op the high prices (and , for me, often not the products I'm looking for) prohibit that. So, people do their shopping at other stores- sometimes in other towns. I'm not sure buying food 'online' is a solution or even how many people would want to buy their groceries online. I certainly wouldn't. The spirit of a food co-op is diminished when the costs are too exhorbitant for locals to shop their. I don't think money is wasted by the management "allocating paid time" to solve people's food issues. I think money is wasted when you build a structure that is much more costly than you can afford.
And, who said that BFC hired non professional electricians to do their work? Not only is that illegal but that wasn't said anywhere in this thread.

 
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Explaining what i meant

Hi,

Whole Foods does not buy individual stores. Smallest acquisition was , I believe, Unicorn Village , in Florida. The maybe Merchants of Vino with 4-5 stores and WellSpring.. Whole Foods is not going to come and buy the coop in a foretold gloom and doom, fire sale. That's what a stand alone store means. Single Unit Operation. The only Grocery Store I have ever seen in a mall was Jewel Foods in Blues Brothers. If a grocery store is in a strip mall, it is considered the anchor store, and not , the Hobby Lobby.

I read quite the opposite than " people doing all their grocery shopping at the coop"

I read "A real food co-op just like the one we used to know. One where most of the work is done by working members. One where most of the produce is local. One where you can’t select from over 100 varieties of wine or countless designer beers. One where most of the food is nitty-gritty real food, affordable by ordinary people, not high end gourmet stuff."

Really , that's what it said , but you thought the total opposite was said. I guess you cant please all the people , all the time.

Most of the work being done by volunteers is called a Buying Club.

None of us are sure about future of on-line purchasing. Not because its is not cost effective, convenient , or an incredible geographic equalizer , but because the delivery is 3rd party, and UPS, was designed for B2B delivery.

Food Distribution is about choices. Its your choice. There does not exist a store that can meet all of your needs, the same way it meets your neighbors or your future needs.

Each person has unique tastes, and habits. And they change and evolve.

BFC gives each of you access to the staff who manage each department. That is AMAZING! You can special order, be informed of upcoming changes, receive informed suggestions, of how many departments? 5-6. Each considers criteria , to use the space for the best ROI.

We ALL pay to have our" food issues " solved. R/D, marketing, failed product launches, Food Safety , Produce traceability, Organics Certification , Product Recall, Local, Fair Trade, holidays demands and schedules. Oh , and I forgot about time saving selections , and simply, getting the foods of this country and the world all represented by 4-8 people .

That access , that access everyone has.. What else could be done? There' s gratitude. Gratitude each work publically, in a place where everyone is a customer and everyone could be an owner , and could be a worker, and for saying, thanks for solving so many problems, and trying your best to be better at it , each day.
That access could be used to say, Thank you. Thank you for allowing yourselves be motivated by owners, customers, and workers, all three , potentially the same person, times X 1000 ? 2000? 2500?

Thank you from your boss,customer, helper. times 2000. We could sign a card.

I am so incredibly grateful that this group of people , especially the ones with decades of experience , with mental stamina , emotional fortitude , sense of humor, grace and vision, since 70's, 80's and until today.

Oh I mis read. The original poster is doing electrical for Brattleboro Barter. not BFC. But he's not a electrician . But that does not mean he is acting outside it the law.

Everyone's entitled to their opinion. Thank you for asking me to clarify.

I still applaud the idea of starting your own buying group. Take control and harness the energy you have. Solutions are made when problems are presented. Heck , buying is bulk is cheaper. There is technology today. Tweet for a Treat. Tweet for some Meat. Have an Uber rific, solution to the issues that frustrate. Open your minds, make some solutions , feed your friends , share the abundance , ( work the produce kicks from UNFI? ) and when you have too many cucumbers , hope your find yourself in a pickle... and relish the abundance of zucchini.

G'Day

 
 #

Whole Foods has purchased and

Whole Foods has purchased and moved into a few small, single stores in MA. I know - I lived in the town where one was bought and is now a very busy Whole Foods. They purchased a 'Hi Lo" supermarket - about the size of the co-op and turned it into a Whole Foods. Granted, it is one of the smaller WF stores but thriving nonetheless. They also went into a single, small building in Brookline, MA. And, in Cambridge, MA. So, they do, in fact, buy smaller buildings that stand alone and turn them into Whole Foods. I'm not suggesting that this should happen to the BFC. I'm just clarifying that it happens.
I actually didn't think "the total opposite" was said in the original post. I fully understood what the context of the post was and, in fact, commented later on about my own personal history with small, start up food co-ops. Please don't make assumptions about what you think I said or thought. I'm quite able to voice my own opinions and thoughts.
I stand by my statement that most of us who occasionally shop at the BFC or shop there for only a few, specific items would like to be able to shop there more often for a larger percentage of our weekly/monthly groceries. The high cost of shopping there stops many of us from doing that. I can shop at Hannafords or Pricechopper and get everything I need with the exception of bulk spices and grains. I do go to the co-op for those. I wish I could shop at the co-op more but my finances don't allow it. When the co-op was much smaller I did a lot more shopping there- this was, of course before their prices doubled to pay for a huge, new building. And while the people who work at the co-op can be helpful and occasionally they have sales that offer good prices - on the whole it doesn't serve the same purpose as the old, less expensive, more friendly co-op did. Again, my opinion.

 
 #

they will have to sell out to " wf" . At least the prices w

Opening in location is different than what was implied by "selling out" .

Whole Foods does not pay for Businesses ( vs Buildings) that are single properties. VS buying a 6 store chain ( " Oh Wellspring= " sold Out')

They may buy, or may lease, but are you saying Hi Lo sold out to WF?> and W paid the Hi Lo for their biz? I don't recall..

does it matter? only if the post assumes WF is going to scout a location , outside of their cluster distribution, specify this building as lease potential, and then pay handsomely, or not so handsomely to the entity that gets to be bought out. // and Bboro will have a store that will be better/ different/ viable/ whatever in that same space.

This whole drama that you ( maybe others) are taking offense to my confusion = how this thread was about being a 1 stop shop , vs volunteer coop , with local, etc.. simply reinforces that Food is not a 1 size fits all approach, and people take it very personally, each for different needs.

There is the most abundant and diverse selection of food on the planet right now. It costs money. But its there to be enjoyed and enjoyed and enjoyed. In hindsight , would nt is be tragic to read these words in diary form in 50 years , if that supply changed for the worse?

Please. Enjoy your Food, from where ever it somes.

Give thanks and Praise.

 
 #

Yes, Whole Foods bought out

Yes, Whole Foods bought out Hi Lo grocery market in Boston. No one mentioned the co -op 'selling out" to whole Foods or anyone else. You introduced the language of selling out. People mentioned that they would like to have a Trader Joe's but I don't think they meant to replace the co-op but in addition to. I personally would have rather seen a TJs come in than Aldi's but that's my preference. Nowhere in any of the previous comments was it suggested that WF was going to 'scout" out the co-op to open a business. Again, that thread came into the conversation with your post. Someone saying that they would rather have a WF or TJ in town doesn't mean they think either of those stores is looking to take over the co-op space.
It just means it would be nice to not have to travel to Hadley, MA to shop at those stores.

 
 #

whole foods took over the locations

Why Say, If I was a less trusting person, I would thing you were trying to speak on my behalf, and paint me in a=n favorable light.

Here what I see: Please just Read .

Last Paragraph re: Bboro needs a Food Coop"

"predict that increasingly rising prices will create a downward “death spiral” and they will have to sell out to Whole Foods."

Jan 2011 internet article
The Hi-Lo was shutting down. Memories of driving from Cambridge, Brookline, and Milton with friends to get authentic Puerto Rican food products (¡Café Pilón!) raced through my mind.

Taking the Hi-Lo’s former locale? A new Whole Foods

Just the facts ma'am. This has outlived its productivity, whose driving the truck to Springfield to New England Candy Company? I want our buying group to carry the straight chocolate Necco Wafers. and we can get candy hearts in bulk.
If you can t understand me, I may find a candy heart that can help.

Sorry 2 Bug U ** Be True ** Fact Check ?

L8R, don't B A H8R

 
 #

Just to clarify - since I

Just to clarify - since I lived in the neighborhood where the HiLo was located and was involved in the robust community action to make sure that Whole _Foods not only carried a wide variety of Latin American and Mexican food products and produce but to also ensure that every HiLo employee was given the opportunity to have comparable jobs at WF. Yes. HiLo closed - because WF bought them out; the business, the building, the land and they even bought the inventory they had left and donated it all to the food pantry in that neighborhood. The internet article that you posted does not give the entire story of the 2 year battle to ensure the Latino community would not be cast aside. You must know that you can't believe everything you read on the internet. But, don't take it from me- I was only part of the community action committee. This convoluted and somewhat ridiculous conversation has come to an end - at least for me.

 
 #

I touched a nerve- Sorry

http://www.wbur.org/2011/01/20/whole-foods-jp

WBUR reports that Whole Foods leased the property.

Check WFM stock page . 2011 if they gave dollars to purchase ? a business. ?? that was going out of business>? it would be public news.

Riduculous. I should say so. Please paint me the inaccurate one.

That's how this works right? Its all about someone whose family is born, married , buried here, being made to feel of non value to someone who wants to use s dr bronners soap box and make changes on an economy where they can have an opinion, and then off to another frontier, in 3 years . Iunsed to think my Grandparents where uptight

What Brattleboro Needs> More Vermonters. and Gratitude for the work that has been done here , to make Bboro the hipster place it is.

I feel so judged, but alas , I am sorry if business understanding gets in the way of a good imaginary foe. Or machavellian force. or ufo story. .. or T.OFU story.

does this mean we don't have consensus for our new buying group? Do we have to have the same politics , to split a case of Arden Rice Cakes?

do you reallllllly want a 1979 coop???

 
 #

Wow. I didn't realize

Wow. I didn't realize someone's choice to use a particular soap meant they couldn't have an opinion or express how they felt about a local business.
I'm not sure how you determine how long someone has lived here or what their family history is or whether they will be moving out of Brattleboro all by the soap he chooses to use. But, clearly you - as an apparent "long timer" in this town feel justified in judging and making assumptions.
Not sure what 'buying group: you hope to establish but you're off to a fine start with this chaotic and puzzling thread of comments. Good luck with your future buying.
And, you didn't touch a nerve. I know what the experience of having WF move into the neighborhood was -regardless of what your excellent business acumen may be- real or imagined.

 
 #

Judging and Opinions

so many misinterpretations of events by you , I don't know how to resolve. each of my responses was to see if I could clarify where the disconnect was. I don't know. Please do not Protest too loudly , your skewed interpretation of my intent.

I think everyone is entitled to voice an opinion. Right On Sister.

and as I learn at Saint Mikes Judge Not and Ye Shall not Be Judged.

What you have are your opinions, based in your reality, and we all can change each of our choices. That's all.

I find that you yourself exhibit the behavior of making assumptions to be the largest part of your "logic" and I use that word very loosely.

First you had not read the original posting. You continue to malign me and personalize in a rather attack=y mode.

You take exception to the choice that the Brattleboro Food Coop made to improve their space, add storage, harness energy, as wasteful, resulting as higher costs. This is a small town. Bboro has high taxes. The cost of selling food in this state are higher than other places on a variety of influence. The Brattleboro Coop is new construction retail, and I think we are very LUCKY to have it . That is my opinion. I think the whole community should thank the group .

They made an investment to serve the community. They have built the store from virtually nothing, from 1975 on.

It was finished about the same time your were living in Boston ? Getting WF to buy inventory and give it away? and them complaining about their prices?

Its funny how people have attitude about how other people spend money. Luck we live in US, and we can have lots of choices. and very very very good opportunity for making/saving money with hard work and clear minded choices.

You live here off and on. That's ok. I assume that you will be moving on again, back and forth, its your choice and its a free world.

It is my opinion , yes, My Opinion you should be grateful that this store exists for the larger community. That's your thing right? Save Hi:Lo for the community.

Brattleboro Food Coop invested for the future.

Maybe its easier for me to see that future benefit as I am beyond a long timer. Both of my parents were born within a 1.5 radius of the store.

Its about choices, perspective, and a clear understanding of the economics of food distribution, that can make us all grateful the BFC exists, shop there with gratitude , and also take personal responsibility for innovating an alternative food source.

OH and given the choice. WFM vs the Aldi/TJ family. Lots of nuance there. Depends what you want. wfm - usa company- supports diverse producers- higher ring- more full service- employs many levels of staff- profits stay in usa mostly- hard to say/ Aldi - TJ- Billionaires for Germany?- Aldi low cost. focus on bare bones- shadow of super walmart- not organic based- TJ- all private labels- more organic- more diversity- tons of packaging- lower ring- as sista they are not coming to Vermont anytime soon.

Food is a very personal choice. People - especially 2015 US are demanding consumers by most part. and that adds to the cost of the food. we all cry about price but that's the cost of quieting the cries for supply.

I am grateful I don't have to work retail anymore. I am starting a
buying club.

And to be honest I do judge some, as ungrateful . Its a 2015 food thing, really, not unique to Bboro. I do this for my source of income. us consumers want more for less , and then .. o h don't get me going. If you want an alternative place to get the over purchased textiles in us , and save money on such, try vented or poshmark or ? who knows whats new today on resale of textile.

-n.joi. your food and share food and -if we get a 1979 coop going I really need to get a few cases of Arden Rice cakes. imissthem

 
 #

I do not " live here off and

I do not " live here off and on". I live here. Period. Much of my family also lives here and they don't live here off and on either. I was living in Brattleboro when Whole Foods came to Jamaica Plain but, because I still owned a business in that neighborhood and because I raised my family in that neighbor hood and because for 40 of my 67 years I have been a community organizer and activist- I made sure that I went back to Boston to be able to help organize the community so that those who had lived and worked in that neighborhood for decades were nor going to be screwed over.
Your posts are so difficult to follow or make any sense out of that it's hard to engage in any kind of cohesive exchange with you.
You are making judgements hand over fist about "illegal" electrical work being done and who buys what and why and people who use Bronner's soap. It's ridiculous. By all means - get your buyers club going - buy and share food to your heart's content. I'm past the point where I want to be part of a buyers club of any sort and will continue to purchase my food in a variety of shops depending on what I need/want/see. And you continue to do whatever it is that you do. Enjoy your day.

 
 #

"acting outside it the law"

Quote: “Oh I mis read. The original poster is doing electrical for Brattleboro Barter. not BFC. But he's not a electrician . But that does not mean he is acting outside it the law.”

As I said, I do electrical work for friends, under the auspices of Brattleboro Time Trade.
This is not illegal under Vermont law. See below.

The Vermont Statutes Online
Title 26 : Professions And Occupations
Chapter 015 : Electricians And Electrical Installations
Subchapter 003 : Licensing Electricians
§ 910. License not required
(6) Any electrical work in a building used for dwelling or residential purposes which contains no more than two dwelling units

And, I DO know what I’m doing. I am a retired Electrical Engineer. In the course of my professional career, I supervised many electricians. I wrote specifications and solved electrical problems. I even taught basic electricity to apprentices.

In accordance with Vermont law, I do not work in “public buildings” or “complex structures” or any other location where a license is required.

So why don't I just go out and get a license? I can certainly pass the test.
The answer is that to obtain a license, one needs to work for "five years with the tools of the trade". That's commonly called an "apprenticeship".

For me, I just don't think it's worth it.

 
 #

Metaphors and Predictions

Wow! 1354 reads. Is that some sort of a record?

Quote (mine): “I regret this. I love co-ops and the whole co-operative movement. I wish our Co-op could be competitive, but the “nut” they have to crack in order to pay off the new building prohibits this. I predict that increasingly rising prices will create a downward “death spiral” and they will have to sell out to Whole Foods. At least the prices will go down.”

Selling out to whole foods is more of a metaphor than a prediction. The Co-op as it presently exists is certainly meeting a need, as its normally full parking lot suggests. The “Health and Beauty Aids” department is terrific! The Bulk Dept. is without equal. The Wine and Beer Dept. is the best in the area. However, for ordinary purchases, it is not meeting the needs of a significant part of the community. I am one that can’t justify paying up to 50% more for what I can buy in Hannaford. But Hannaford’s Deli isn’t Organic! Neither is BFC’s.
Likewise, I’d prefer to buy my jeans in Sam’s. However, I hold my nose and drive across the river.

There’s nothing to prevent the formation of a new “buying club” to operate as the Co-op did in the ‘70s. I’m too old to bother doing it, but maybe someone reading this will.

 
 #

who wants to buy and sell a truck load of organic produce?

CHERRY 12X12 POLY BAG… $ 24.95 FOB

CHERRY BULK 20LB.. 9 BOXES… $ 28.95 FOB

CHERRY 12X1PT… $ 10.95 FOB

ROMA 25#.. JUST CAME IN… $ 20.95 FOB

BEEFSTEAK 15# WITHOUT CALYX… 20CT – 39CT… $ 10.95 FOB

BEEFSEAK 15# WITH CALYX.. 35CT – 39CT…. $ 0.95 FOB

TOV 11#.. MEX… $ 10.95 FOB

TOV 11#.. USA… $ 12.95 FOB

EGGPLANT 18CT – 24CT…. $ 14.95 FOB

CUCUMBER 50 # SUPER SELECT / SELECT…. $ 18.95 FOB

CUCUMBER 50 # PLAIN ( JUICER / NO STICKERS )…. $ 10.95 FOB

CUCUMBER SUPER SELECT / SELECT 25#... $ 10.95 FOB

RED BELL 11#.. X-LARGE….. $ 20.95 FOB

ZUCCHINI 22# AND YELLOW STRAIGHT NECK 22#.... $ 10.95 FOB

ENGLISH CUCS 12CT…. $ 16.95 FOB

> kinda kidding, although, you can do it w/o a brokers lics unitl a certain dollar amount.

Heres a supply and price. Its about a 5 day ride to Bboro

someone/anyone? - look for a demand/ freight it/ sell it/ get it accepted/ pay the bill / keep the difference.

this is all organic and fair trade !!

all you have to do is have 40K, take responsibility for all variables, and then do it again and again , and feed the people more food. you may need a warehouse, unless you can sell all
20 tons in a day or so. ? any space? I know of some. but I have other stuff I am late for

Discuss , and I will check back if anyone wants to be more involved.

Theres prob tons of other stuff too , stay away from the potatoes , they are sprouting.

 
 #

This idea

For a new coop, but one which was a general store as well as buying club, was floated by the late great Larry Bloch a few years back. It's a good idea. Some standard dry goods- including basic clothing that's hard to find in Bratt- and household wares along with bulk buying of food. Maybe it'll still happen.

 
 #

Excellent idea!

A real store of the people, by the people and for the people. We CAN make it happen.

 

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