A Sign of the Times

A Letter from the Co-op General Manager 

To our cooperative community,

This week, a Co-op employee in our Lebanon store shared an inspiring photo with me, and today I would like to share it with you. It was a simple, touching gesture from the community, expressing something genuine and profound.

I think I speak for all of us at the Co-op when I say how much we appreciate this sort of encouragement. I shared the photo with all employees in an email yesterday.

The sign of support comes at a good time. It has been a challenging couple of weeks. Both New Hampshire and Vermont have unveiled their phased re-opening orders, and a new level of complexity has been added to an already-complex situation.

Things are shifting in the retail environment as well. What a difference two months can make. Nationwide, essential workers, who were once celebrated as heroes, are now apt to bear the brunt of angry shoppers who resent their shopping experiences being impacted by masks and other social-distancing measures. I am part of a country-wide Co-op General Manager Email chain. Several fellow GMs have expressed the need to hire security guards for their stores to keep control over their store environment. Extraordinary, simply extraordinary!  Our own employees have experienced shopper frustration from time to time, sometimes even finding themselves between two shoppers who are angry at one another over perceived lapses in COVID-19 safety precautions. To say the least, it is a challenging time.

Our employees have been wonderful through all this, rolling with all the changes and steadfast and responsive in implementing the state’s social-distancing mandates. To thank them for their hard work, this week the Co-op leadership team endorsed the payment of additional discretionary, short-term bonuses to all employees, effective immediately. As before, the bonuses will be equal to $2.00 for each actual hour worked. Bonuses will be for two consecutive pay periods, thus covering the entire month of May.

Clearly the vast majority of our shoppers are kind and respectful toward employees. So I am writing today to thank you for that, and to remind that you that the best thing you can do for Co-op employees and your fellow shoppers is to continue following common-sense social distancing measures. This includes wearing masks, following our social-distancing signs, staying six feet away from others, and staying home when sick. In addition, when shopping at the Co-op or anywhere else, we should all be mindful of, and focused on, our own behavior and not that of other shoppers. Please do not lose sight of the fact that it is not about “me,” and me alone. Rather is it about “us,” ALL OF US, all the time. Remember, employees are there to make our shopping experience as pleasant as it can be, not to referee between disgruntled customers.

Our employees continue to work hard at doing the shopping for you, as well. This week our Member Services team will email all 191 shoppers who have placed curbside pickup orders with us, telling them we can now accept orders online. A link to our online system will be included in the email. Early next week, we will send an email to the 1,110 shoppers on our wait list, inviting them to order online too. Shoppers will initially have the option of picking up at Hanover or Lebanon. Our end goal is to see curbside pickup available in every Co-op location, with all of our products available online.

My thanks to all of our members for supporting our Co-op and its employees during this challenging time. Be well and be safe, and we look forward to serving you in the stores or at the curbside. 

Onwards and upwards,


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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 by the Co-op Board as interim General Manager in March 2020 and General Manager in September 2020. To contact, email PGuidone@coopfoodstore.com.

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