Masks, Communication, and Exploring Our Community Programs

A Letter from the Co-op General Manager

To Our Community,

Traditionally, the first week of August is a very busy time at the Co-op, and despite the pandemic, this year is no exception. It is good to see that the summer growing season is buzzing as usual, and our stores are well-stocked with the local and regional produce we are known for.

This week our teams covered a lot of ground in several key areas, and I would like to take this opportunity to update you on where things stand.


Thanks to loyal shoppers, top-notch employees, and creative operational approaches, our business remains robust and thriving even under the most challenging of circumstances. Sales continue to be strong, with combined sales from our food stores and the service centers exceeding budgets again last week. That said, food store sales appear to be stabilizing over the past several weeks. 


With every message I write, I feel like I must include an update about masks. In this case, the news is good: Our mandatory mask requirement went into effect last week, and overall shoppers have been very supportive and happy to comply. We supported more than 28,000 transactions last week, which equates to a lot of individuals walking through the doors. To date, only 10 shoppers have attempted to refuse wearing a mask. (Notice I used the word “attempted.”) Our employees have been highly trained to handle these situations, and they have responded with their usual grace and professionalism.

I would like to thank all of our members and shoppers who have followed our mask recommendations and social-distancing protocols from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. More and more, mandatory masks are becoming the norm rather than the exception nationwide, including in Vermont and in our local towns of Enfield, Hanover, and now Lebanon, where the matter is under consideration.


Our teams returned to the topic of training this week, focusing on the tools and techniques our employees need to help facilitate communication throughout the organization. It is an ongoing discussion, but one issue remains constant: That is, we are a diverse and open organization, and a priority is that our employees should feel informed, supported, and comfortable to raise any issue or concern, at any time. Because the topic is so important, we plan to continue the discussions next week.

Measuring the Soul of the Business: The Community Connection

In closing, a brief review: For several weeks I have been reporting on our continuing work to measure the soul of our business. Keep in mind that when summarizing who we are, we look at three broad areas: social responsibility, ecological responsibility, and community focus. The goal is to measure our impact—setting targets and objectives and reporting on them throughout the year. The first step is gathering data.

Our Outreach teams have done an excellent job on an important first step, which is putting together a spreadsheet of all the many community programs at the Co-op. The next step is to analyze data from similar programs, and then begin to set measurable targets for the future. The work to date, focused on our community programs, will be a good template for the other areas of the Co-op we wish to measure and report on moving forward.

Wrap Up

In closing, my thanks to all our members and shoppers for the ongoing support, as always. Remember to be kind to one another and to yourselves, and we will see you in our stores and at the curbside.

Onward and upward,

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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

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