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.

Meet a (NEW!) Supplier: South Mountain MicroFarm

collageValley Co-op is pleased to welcome South Mountain MicroFarm as a new supplier of sustainably-raised, chemical free produce (& fish!) right here in Washington County, MD! Started in 2014, South Mountain MicroFarm is located on a 30 year old Christmas tree farm that is being restored to life by the Sellers Family. Some of our customers may remember Levi Sellers from when he was an assistant store manager for Valley Co-op a few years ago. Levi, along with his family, have added an aquaponics greenhouse to the farm to expand the business with sustainability and the environment in mind.

img_3695Aquaponics is a hybrid system that combines organic farming, hydroponics (soiless plant culture), and recirculating aquaculture. This creates an ecosystem in which both plants and fish can thrive. Raising crops in this method is natural, sustainable, safe and uses one tenth of the water that traditional field methods require.

The Sellers will continue to offer Christmas trees and have partnered the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative (CASRI) as part of their commitment to sustainabilty. For EVERY Christmas Tree purchased from their farm, TWO will be replanted…one on their farm and another planted as part of an ecosystem restoration project.

This week is the first harvest for South Mountain MicroFarm and they are bringing their first lettuce pickings direct to Valley Co-op’s store. Lettuces will also be ready to order this weekend and soon to follow other vegetables and sustainably raised tilapia!

Stay tuned for more exciting news from this up and coming entrepreneurial farm!

southmtnmicrologoSouth Mountain MicroFARM is located at:
6138 Clevelandtown Rd.
Boonsboro, MD 21713
Learn more on the web at: www.southmtnmicrofarm.com, or
fb_icon_325x325www.facebook.com/SouthMountainMicroFARM/

2016 Annual Membership Meeting: Will Valley Co-op Survive?

gmmoct2016_square

Will Valley Co-op Survive?
~Four Business Options to be presented at next Annual Membership Meeting~
All members are encouraged to attend this very important meeting to discuss the future of the store and Valley Co-op as an organization.
For more information, read this letter from the BOD.

 

NEW SUPPLIER: Blind Spot Nutbutters

Posted on by Susan

 

Just when you thought you’ve tried all the different types of nutbutters out there, something new and crazy pops up. These nutbutters are flying off our shelves with fun flavors like “Cinnamon Roll”, “Peanut Butter Brownie” and “It’s a Zoo” (Peanuts, Cashews, Animal Crackers, Chocolate chips, &Dried Bananas). We are also carrying Blind Spot‘s Thai Peanut sauce in store.

From York, PA, Blind Spot uses sustainable, non-GMO products in every blend and organic certified sweeteners and other ingredients as possible. Read more about the origins of their unique business name and other product info on Blind Spot‘s website. You can also follow them on Facebook @blindspotnutbutters

Introducing New Supplier: Stonewall Angus

Posted on by Susan

stonewallCollageNew Supplier selling to Members through weekend orders
Established in 1989, Stonewall Angus cattle are raised on grass pasture in Fairplay, MD and supplemented with corn based nutritionally balanced feed ration. The corn and soybeans used in feed are all grown on farm. All hay used as winter feed is also grown on the farm. There are no growth hormones or steroids used. Antibiotics are only used in life or death situation to protect animal health.
Learn more at: www.stonewallangus.com

Meet a Supplier: Farm of Peace, Warfordsburg, PA

Posted on by Susan

farmbarns1The Farm of Peace is a 150-acre farm in the gently rolling hills of south-central Pennsylvania, only 45 minutes from Hagerstown, just north of Hancock, MD. The location is a working farm, a retreat and healing center, and a spiritual community. Aside from fresh, organically grown (not certified) produce, Farm of Peace offers beautiful CSA shares, pastured meats and sells at local farmers markets.

12321684_802238589881820_3935826968523170158_nThey recently hosted a mushroom growing event at Valley Co-op and decided to apply to become suppliers to the store. Ricky Connelley from the Farm explain about their business: ‘We adhere to organic certification guidelines in our production practices although we have not yet gone through the certification process. We use minimal tillage, lots of hand labor with some tractor assistance, and plant and encourage wildflowers for insect pollinators, and trees for windbreaks and other environmental benefits.’

Currently Farm of Peace is offering currently offering: Kale, chard, head lettuce, salad mixes, asparagus, radishes, and scallions in the store and for member orders; more varities are added weekly. Learn more about Farm of Peace on their website: farmofpeace.com

Meet A Supplier: JT&R Exotic Meats

Posted on by Susan

scenicviewJT&R, a new vendor for Valley Co-op, offers a wide variety of exotic meats, chiefly pork, lamb, goat, and, coming soon, farm-raised water buffalo. JT&R Exotic Meats was born from a third generation farm in the heart of the Middletown Valley, MD. Rick and Josh have a passion for raising and selling only the highest quality meats.

 

GoatBreedingStock Rick writes: “All of our animals are born and raised on our farm. We raise our animals to be of the highest quality in order to produce the highest quality meats. We enjoy farming, but more so we enjoy seeing happy, satisfied customers. All of our animals are raised without using any type of hormone, antibiotics or steroids. We feed our animals only what we grow on our farm namely, alfalfa orchard grass and barley. We do this to ensure excellent taste and disease prevention. Our main pest-fighter is a large herd of free-range peacocks that eat and keep insects away.WaterBuffalo

We are excited to offer an unprecedented line of exquisite meats. From our farm to your table, we thank you!”

Look for JT&R products at our store. A larger variety of inventory can be ordered through our member online ordering program. JT&R can be found on Facebook: www.facebook.com/jtrmeats/

Try Terressentials Body Wash . . . On Your Hair!

Terressentials® Hair Wash Products

Have you tried Terressentials body care products yet? If you’re committed to buying local and organic and doing good for your body and the earth, Terressentials products are for you. They’re hand crafted in small batches right next door in Middletown, Maryland, and every ingredient that can be is USDA certified organic. Read the ingredients on that bottle of so-called “natural” or “organic” shampoo or body lotion you picked up at that big natural foods chain store… Do you really know what they are? Can you even pronounce them?

Terressentials’ unique, clay-based, non-lathering Hair Wash is one of the small company’s most popular products. Customers from around the world rave about it (and pay big shipping fees to get it)! It was even featured on an episode of the TV show “Dirty Jobs” in 2008. Here’s a silly clip from the show:

http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/dirty-jobs/videos/wizard-of-odd/

The Hair Wash does require a leap of faith (putting mud on my hair will clean it? REALLY??) and a commitment, since it’s not compatible with conventional hair products containing synthetic ingredients and sometimes takes time (ie., a “detox period”) to produce ideal results.

Terressentials Body Wash, followed by a vinegar/water rinse, is a good alternative to the Hair Wash for those who are not yet ready for the non-lathering, mud-like Hair Wash. Terressentials Body Washes are gentle, detergent-free, traditional castile soaps made from organic coconut and olive oils, blended with soothing organic aloe vera juice, organic herbs, pure minerals and organic essential oils. The Body Wash is also recommended as the initial deep-cleansing step before starting to use the Hair Wash, and as a once- or twice-a-month alternative to the Hair Wash. Some people choose to use the Body Wash/vinegar rinse for their regular hair cleansing, as often as needed.

The procedure (as described in the the Hair Wash Instructions sheet you should pick up with your Hair or Body Wash purchase) is simply to wash the hair with the Body Wash and rinse well with lots of plain water. Immediately after rinsing with plain water, you must apply a dilute vinegar and water rinse to the hair as a “conditioner.” Be sure to massage the rinse well into the hair and scalp to remove precipitated minerals deposited on your hair from your castile Body Wash and the tap water.

For the vinegar/water rinse, use 1 part organic vinegar to 2 parts water (apple cider or white or rice), or up to a 1 part vinegar:1 part water mixture depending on your preference. Use about one cup of the mixture for short hair, more for longer hair. This rinse used periodically can help to remove impurities and calm static, too.

So now you have two great options from Terressentials for cleaning your hair – the world-famous “mud” Hair Wash, and the lathering Body Wash (in four delicious “flavors,” plus Fragrance-free). Needless to say, the Body Wash is also wonderful for cleansing — you guessed it — your body!

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