A letter from Michael Maguire

Michael Maguire, Vice President of our Board of Directors

Michael Maguire, Vice President of our Board of Directors

Ask not what your Co-op can do for you...

You don’t really have to ask. You already know that your Co-op is the trusted source of healthy organic food for you and your family. You know that your Co-op is a vital member of the community providing good jobs in downtown Great Barrington, making donations to local organizations, providing discounts for our neighbors in need and keeping your grocery shopping dollars in the community. You know that Great Barrington and all of South County just wouldn’t be the same without your Co-op.

...ask what you can do for your Co-op

Your Co-op is at a pivotal moment in its history. The new store has opened, it’s twice as large as the old store and provides many more products. The layout of the new store is much more efficient, allowing the staff to serve your better. But there are challenges. Your Co-op needs to produce more income to pay back the investment in the new store. Access from the parking lot is difficult and will be until the permanent parking lot is completed. Perhaps most importantly, Troy Bond, the new General Manager, and his staff are working diligently to “fine tune” the new store, to turn it into the Co-op that owners really want it to be. These are serious challenges and the Co-op needs your help.

Owners, answer the call! Your Co-op needs you to be an active part of its success. Here are two things you can do to help.

So, as an owner, what can you do for your Co-op?

Here are two things to start with:

First: Be the eyes and ears of your Co-op. Help the staff make it possible for you to do all your grocery shopping at the Co-op. How can Owners do this? Is there some product you want that another store carries but isn’t at the Co-op? Is there an item you want that is regularly priced less at another store? Tell a staff member, or better yet, tell the manager on duty in the store. Prefer to communicate in writing? Use the comment wall, or email Troy (tbond@berkshire.coop) and he’ll get the information to the right manager or buyer.

As you can imagine, just getting the information to stock the products customers want, at prices that are competitive with other stores, is an immense challenge for any grocery store. By providing this critical information to the Co-op staff, Owners will not only be helping our Co-op serve us better, but will be making a great contribution to the long-term success of their Co-op. It may not be possible for the Co-op to carry everything you want at the lowest price, but your information will allow the staff to make their best effort to do so.

Second: If you have the means, commit to an Owner loan. Your Co-op still needs to finish a capital campaign to ensure we have a smooth transition after settling in to the new store. Owner loans are available for 8, 9, or 10-year terms and loans of greater than $10,000 pay up to 5% interest (loans of less than $10,000 pay up to 3% interest)

Owner loans are an opportunity to invest in your Co-op, an investment that is good for the environment and good for the community. Make an investment in the cooperative distribution of healthy, local, organic food. It’s a great way to “put your money where your mouth is”. If you want more information about making a loan to your Co-op, you can contact the Co-op at invest@berkshire.coop. We can provide you with a prospectus that contains all the details you need to make an informed decision about lending.