States Are Reopening Their Economies. Here Are Our Next Steps.

 A Letter from the Co-op General Manager

To our cooperative community,

In an interview with VTDigger on Wednesday, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott hinted that his office may soon ease restrictions on gyms, cleaning services, and even indoor dining at Vermont restaurants. Across the border in New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu recently gave the go-ahead for state beaches to reopen to swimmers, walkers, and runners as early as June 1. In short, like other states nationwide, Vermont and New Hampshire are reopening their economies, taking the first steps toward something closer to a pre-virus state of normalcy.

While early, this is a welcome change from weeks of closing doors and limiting services. I think I speak for many of us when I say even the word “reopening” gives all of us all a sense of hope, something positive to work toward. Still, smart businesses are moving forward cautiously, and at the Co-op we are no exception. Our goal is to reopen some of our own services in a conscientious and measured way

Out of an abundance of caution, we are still holding off on many of our social events, including in-person Co-op Classes and our annual Producers Fair. We also do not envision indoor seating in our café areas anytime in the near future. That said, we are considering gradually extending store hours, and reestablishing outdoor seating for prepared foods. Store teams are working on finalizing plans for staffing and cleaning protocols so that our shoppers can enjoy our outdoor spaces safely. Our goal is to implement these plans early next month. 

Our Marketing and Outreach teams are working on innovative ways to support the community and engage with members—an idea that is foundational to our member-owned business. For example, we are currently testing the use of coupons as a novel approach to food drives. Also, our online classes are gaining traction, and our Co-op Learning Center teams are formatting the content based on customer feedback. This includes more hands-on classes as opposed to demos, all hosted remotely. 

Online ordering and curbside pickup for Co-op members has been well received. Almost all curbside orders are being placed online. Recent trend analyses leads us to anticipate it will only gain in popularity moving forward. Curbside pickup is available in our Hanover and Lebanon stores, and will launch at the Co-op Market next week, then White River Junction. As we think about reopening our services post-COVID-19, we envision online ordering and curbside pickup in all locations as a key strategic service

Finally, remember that any steps to reopen our services will be taken in tandem with our proven social distancing measures, which are not going anywhere. This includes wearing masks, following social distancing signs in stores, and staying six feet away from others. Our primary goal will always be the safety of our employees, members, and shoppers

My thanks to all of our members for the steadfast support for our employees during such a challenging and unpredictable time. Be well and be safe, and we look forward to serving you in the stores or at the curbside. 

Onwards and upwards,

Paul

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Paul Guidone

Paul Guidone

Paul Guidone, CFA, spent the better part of four decades in the investment management business here and abroad. He held positions ranging from analyst through Deputy Chairman and Group CEO, at organizations such as Citigroup (US) and The HSBC Group (London and Hong Kong). He joined the Co-op in 2016 as the CFO and in 2018 became Strategic Advisor to the General Manager. Paul was appointed Interim General Manager by the Co-op Board effective March 8th. To contact, email PGuidone@coopfoodstore.com.
Paul Guidone

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