We’re Moving Today!

citymarket

City Farmer’s Market sign on top of building

If you’ve missed the news, as of today Valley Co-op buying club’s home is the Historic City Farmer’s Market in Hagerstown! Read the Herald Mail article or watch a short video clip.

Our address: 25 West Church Street, Hagerstown, MD (map)

Times of pickups and deliveries will remain unchanged:
Deliveries 11 AM-2 PM Thursdays
Pickups 3-8 PM Thursdays and 3-6 PM Fridays.

On Saturday May 6 we will be adding Saturday pickup hours 9 AM-1 PM.

citymap

Pickups and deliveries will be handled at the back of the building (Market Pl). Valley Co-op’s door will be marked and is in the middle of the building. You may park in the alley off to the side for your delivery or pickup. Please do not block the alley!  If you prefer, you may use the metered parking and walk around the building.

Note: The front doors facing the metered parking area will only be open on Saturdays.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

We’re Moving to Downtown Hagerstown!

hagerstown_council_meetingWe are excited to announce that on April 4, 2017, Board of Directors President Julius Goepp signed a 2-year lease agreement with the City of Hagerstown for Valley Co-op to occupy the 2,500 sq ft space in the back of the Historic City Farmer’s Market, located at 25 W. Church St.  Valley Co-op leadership is working closely with City officials on a joint press release providing details about the exciting new public-private partnership.

The move will take place on April 17.  Co-op manager Cori Rohrer does not expect to skip any weekly order cycles unless unforeseen complications arise. The first delivery and pickup cycle at our new location will be on Thursday, April 20. We will post any last minute changes on our Facebook page and via email.

For the immediate future Valley Co-op will continue as a member-only buying club with orders placed online. We will maintain the same pickup hours as currently offered: Thursdays from 3-8PM and Fridays from 3-6PM.  Cori will provide details about pickups and deliveries prior to the move.

Beginning on Saturday May 7, we will start offering regular Saturday pickup hours while the market is open for regular business, from 9AM-1PM.

We will need volunteers to help pack up the store on Saturday, April 15 and volunteers to unpack at the new location on Tuesday April 18 and Wednesday April 19.  Please email storemanager@valleycoop.org if you can help.

Business Update 2/24/17: New BOD and Buying Club Goals

The Valley Coop Board of Directors met in Special Session on 20 February 2017, for several important purposes.

First, the Board welcomed its three new members, John Winger, Michael Evans, and Cliff Lane, who were selected and appointed by the existing BOD, per VC by-laws, and will stand for re-election at the end of their 3-year terms.

These members bring a wealth of experience, ideas, and commitment, and we anticipate their active involvement as the Coop moves into its evolving future.

This brings our active Board membership to six, with one late-announcing candidate shortly to be confirmed, for a total of seven members moving forward.

With this announcement, the nominations for Board members are closed. New elections will be held as seats become vacant, and will follow the usual procedures for nominating and voting by the general membership.

The bulk of the Special Session, which was attended by four BOD members and members of both the Transition Team and the City Market Working Group, was devoted to the short- and intermediate-term issues facing us as a group.

Vince Loflin, who heads the Transition Team, provided an update on the various locations under consideration for locating the Buying Club’s operations. The two leading sites that are available are one in Boonsboro, and another, farther away, on Lehman’s mill road.

However, an appealing alternative may be the use of a portion of space in the City Market in downtown Hagerstown. We are excited to be in very preliminary discussions with City government representatives to explore that possibility, and have high hopes that further discussions might lead to a longer-term, more ambitious collaboration.

Members should check the Newsletter frequently for updates on the Buying Club’s status and potential locations. We must vacate the current Route 40 location as of April 30, 2017.

It is our strong hope that Buying Club ordering and pickup will continue without interruption during this transition period!

Further discussion at the Special Session focused on outlining the medium- and longer-term plans for reestablishing a physical food cooperative in Hagerstown.

The Board unanimously approved efforts to begin this process, which will include weekly planning meetings of the City Market Working Group, initiation of feasibility and market studies, and solicitation of grant funds from a variety of organizations to support this work.

Please note: We intend to follow very carefully the Food Coop Development Model developed by the Food Coop Initiative. Click here to go to the FCI website – we encourage ALL MEMBERS to become familiar with this model, to understand that doing this right will take up to 5 years before doors open anywhere, and to attend our Working Group sessions (Tuesdays at 3:30 on the HCC Campus: please email jgkgoepp@gmail.com to let us know of your interest and to get specific directions).

Again, please read this Newsletter regularly to follow what we are doing and to get involved – this is an ambitious project, and a big lift for our community, but we are confident that we can succeed, as do 80% of coops that follow the NCI model.

Store Closed|Buying Club Continues for Members

Posted on by Susan

StoreClosed_BuyingClubBannerFeb

New January Hours for 2017

Posted on by Susan

JanStoreHours2017

Co-op Business Update

Posted on by Susan

~REMINDER: Task Force Meeting this Monday & Call for BOD Applicants~

Our store will continue to be open to the public on Thursday thru Saturday each week in January. In February we will operate as a buying club, where only members with active accounts on VCShop will be able to order products online.

There is a lot of energy regarding continuing to operate as a buying club after our lease ends at the end of February. The Buying Club survey almost ready to go out. We continue to look for locations (see specs at https://goo.gl/gzcina) and may even be able to afford to pay a bit more rent. Next meeting of the Task Force will be on Monday, January 9 at 7 PM, at Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren, 20402 Beaver Creek Rd Hagerstown. If you care about continuing to have easy access to products from our local vendors after our doors close, this is the meeting to attend! All who contributed to our capital campaign will be receiving an email with details about refunds. Refunds are already in process for those who contributed via GoFundMe.

Thank you again! If we cease buying club operations after February, we will refund pro-rated membership dues to those who paid $35 on or after September 2016 and who request a refund. Please consider being part of Valley Co-op’s Board of Directors, as we regroup as a buying club and work to reopen with an improved storefront! Please email info@valleycoop.org if you’re interested in receiving an application.

Christmas Holiday Hours

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End of “Keep Valley Co-op’s Doors Open” Campaign

Thank you all so much for your generous contributions to the “Keep Valley Co-op’s Doors Open” campaign. As we near the end of the campaign it has become clear that we will fall short of our goal. Therefore, we are ending it now.

Those who contributed will receive a separate communication regarding their refund.

The Board, together with a Task Force comprised of members, have been looking at alternatives.

Short term we’re considering reverting to a buying club, a model we successfully used during the first three years of our existence. To help us define what a successful buying club might look like, please look for an email with a link to a survey. The survey will arrive right after Christmas.

Longer term we’re looking at possibilities to mount a capitalization campaign and reopen as a store at a different location.

Your involvement is key to our making decisions that benefit the community. Thank you again for your support of Valley Co-op!

Have a great Holiday, and please do watch for the survey form.

Sincerely,

Rita Bratcher (President)
Julius Goepp (Vice-President)
Susan Rosenberg (Treasurer)
Joan Erdesky (Secretary)
David Elliott (Board member)
Michael Lehman (Board member)
Lena Rotenberg (Board member)

UPDATE Keep Valley Co-op’s Doors Open! campaign

Posted on by Lena

(11/12/16)

Following our October General Membership Meeting, the Valley Co-op Board of Directors conducted an anonymous online survey and started a fundraising campaign. Thank you to the 411 households that responded  (49% were current members, 22% former members, and 29% never members), and thank you to those who already contributed funds (at the time of this writing, we’re at 24% of our goal!).

We’re still working on a detailed report of the survey results, to be shared next week. Responses were all over the spectrum. On one end were comments such as “I didn’t know you were there,” highlighting the need for us to conduct a professional marketing campaign. On the other end were comments such as “You rock. Please hang in there.”

Between the two extremes respondents provided sobering information about why people don’t shop more at Valley Co-op. Answers to the question, “What percentage of your groceries do you get through Valley co-op?” were low. Even among member households, the segment that shops the most, half reported that they get less than 10% of their groceries at our store. The average response among members was only 19%. Among former members, the average shopping cart was only 5%, and non-members, 2%.

Two of the biggest obstacles for shoppers are that our location is inconvenient, and prices are higher than they can find elsewhere. Other obstacles are still being analyzed, including the hundreds of suggestions received as an answer to “What products do you buy every week that Valley Co-op does not carry?” and in freeform comments to other survey questions.

Whether or not Valley Co-op might revert to being a buying club is not a question that the Board is now focusing on. That issue would be addressed should we need to cease operations as a brick and mortar store.

The ultimate message respondents and contributors to our campaign provided is that our mission matters to many in our community.

128 respondents (!) volunteered to pick up Valley Co-op brochures to distribute. Please pick up brochures at the store at your convenience. Note that, should we close our doors, we will refund pro-rated membership payments made after September 2016 to those members who request it.

18 respondents volunteered to make phone calls to follow up on the GoFundMe campaign.  We will get back to you after Thanksgiving, thank you!

We are thrilled that 29 respondents identified themselves as willing to be part of a Task Force working with the Board to keep our doors open. We really need you to help, as we’re short-handed. Please join us for a first meeting from 7-8 PM on Monday, November 11 at the Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren (20402 Beaver Creek Rd, Hagerstown). If you’d like to be part of the task force but cannot make this meeting, please contact us at info@valleycoop.org .

The survey results were just being tallied when the board received some unexpected news: the co-op’s lease of the National Pike building will not be renewed for a full year when it expires at the end of February 2017.  The owner of the building plans to expand his contracting business next door into the storefront the co-op has occupied since 2014.

“There may be a silver lining in this,” said Cori Rohrer, manager of the store. “A different location could make the store accessible to more people, and could let us offer a wider range of prepared, ready-to-eat foods, too.”

If you have a location you’d like us to consider for a Valley Co-op store, please contact us at info@valleycoop.org.

Visit http://valleycoop.org/keep-valley-coops-doors-open often to find a link to our GoFundMe fundraiser, as well as access to the survey results (forthcoming next week) and to news pertaining to what the community Task Force, Board and Operations are doing to keep our doors open.

Thank you for your enthusiasm and continued support! Please share our campaign widely.

 

Update from Annual Meeting – October 2016

Posted on by Susan

gmm_collageOn Monday, October 10, 2016 the annual General Membership Meeting of the Valley Co-op was held at Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren in Hagerstown. Over 40 member households attended, representing approximately 12% of total membership.

The presentation, titled “Can Valley Co-op Survive?” started with a review of the seven Co-operative Principles followed by a brief history, How Did We Get Here? Discussed was the option of staying open one more year with member financial support, initiatives to increase sales and ways to decrease expenses, and the option to close the store.

Members, suppliers, staff and board of directors all participated in the discussion. The discussion was encouraging and those present were in favor of staying open, offering ideas and resources. Members offered to take brochures to their small businesses, frequented places, meetings, etc., to assist in outreach.

To reach those not able to attend, look for a survey at the beginning of this week. Please fill it out even if you attended the meeting Monday. This is a critical time, so please read emails and other correspondence from Valley Co-op.

A decision will be reached by December 31 whether to keep the store open or to close the store and address the other three options proposed.

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