An Update from our Board of Directors

An Update from our Board of Directors

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March 4th, 2023

Dear Potsdam Food Co-op Members,

The past two weeks were filled with significant changes and we are currently in a period of major transition for the Co-op. Many hours have been spent talking, listening, worrying, meeting, and researching how to make sense of all these changes. After a frantic week, we have formed a plan to share with you and we invite your feedback.

As you are probably aware, Andy Peet has resigned from the General Manager position. After much thought and consideration, the Board in partnership with Andy has determined Andy’s last day as GM will be Friday, March 3rd. Going forward, we are pleased to know he would like to stay involved with the Co-op as a working member. We would like to take a moment to thank Andy for his dedication and commitment to the Co-op since he started working here 15 years ago. He bravely took on the GM role only a month prior to the start of COVID and has had to navigate through supply and staff shortages, changes in shopper habits and needs, and managing the rising cost of goods. We wish Andy the best of luck in all his future endeavors.

The process of filling an Interim GM position is in the works right now and the Board has already created a formal Search Committee to begin the process of finding a new General Manager.

As highlighted at the Annual Meeting on February 7th, the current financial status of the Co-op is dire. It is important that members understand the financial crisis we are facing.  

  • The Co-op owes money to vendors and suppliers.
  • Inventory needs to be resupplied.
  • The Co-op has a minimal amount remaining in savings.
  • The Co-op has been operating at a loss for the past two years.

But all is NOT lost! We can turn things around, and that is just what we are working on right now.  We have numerous, dedicated people with relevant skill-sets working together to help get the Co-op on a new path.  

In order to address the challenges listed above, the Board established a Crisis Management Committee (CMC). Members include Lauren Prentice (President), Megan Lane (Vice President), and Brian Reece (Treasurer), as well as a few highly involved Member-Owners. The CMC was formed to actively manage the rapidly unfolding situation, support Co-op leadership in managing the transition, and make recommendations to both staff and board in order to achieve the necessary business goals within 30 days. Without drastic changes to the financial situation, the Co-op will not be able to survive. Cutting some employee hours and restructuring the staffing and management system has already begun. As a reminder, the “Round-Up for Renovation” funds that many of us have been contributing to at the register, are currently being set aside from the day-to-day operating funds.  

In addition to the creation of the Crisis Management Committee, the Board has appointed Arden Haynes as Transition Manager.  Arden has a background in running small businesses, crisis management, and leadership. In the role of Transition Manager, Arden will be on-site working alongside the Co-op team. Arden has been tasked with identifying problems and proposing solutions, developing a formal 30 day action plan, and providing onsite support to ensure daily operations continue with minimal disruptions to customer experience. Topics of discussion between Arden, the CMC, and Co-op leadership include, but are not limited to, labor optimization, efficiency of operational processes, cost analysis of bakery and deli items, and inventory management.

While the Board, new leadership, frontline team, and the finance committee are taking several measures to rapidly address the financial standing of the Co-op, we need your help. Your membership and dedication to the Co-op is truly appreciated and valued. 

Now more than ever, we need your continued support and action. 

Here are a few ways you can help:

  1. Put funds on your Member Account (using cash or check). All funds added to Member Accounts will be used immediately to restock shelves or other pressing needs. Adding $200-$1,000 to your member spending account will have an immediate, positive impact on the Co-op’s operations.
  2. Shop at the Co-op. New pricing, thanks to our National Co+op Grocers membership, has made the Co-op a more affordable destination for your regular groceries.
  3. Pay with cash or check when you can. Credit and debit card charges cost the Co-op $1,700 – $1,800 a month.  If you do not typically carry cash, please know your business is still greatly appreciated. A credit/debit sale is better than no sale at all!  
  4. Become a Core Worker. You choose how much time you can devote to helping out.  One, two, and three-hour shifts per week are common, but any time given is always welcome. Are there tasks you enjoy doing or are able to do? Support is needed for cleaning, repairs, packaging, stocking, organizing, etc. One hour can make a difference.  Be on the lookout for an email appeal for help in the next few weeks! 

The next thirty days will be challenging and require extra effort from everyone who loves the Co-op. The changes we make over the next month may be the difference needed to keep the doors open to our community.

We value your questions and feedback during this critical time. If you have questions or comments regarding the leadership transition or current financial situation, please direct them to Board President or Crisis Management Committee (emails listed below). 

Thank you for your patience and support as we navigate through these challenges.

The Potsdam Food Co-operative Board of Directors,

  • Lauren Prentice (President) 
  • Megan Lane (Vice President) 
  • Brian Reece (Treasurer) 
  • Kristen Avery (Secretary)
  • Marshall Issen
  • Aviva Gold
  • Karen Bage
  • Rob Forrester
  • Jim Fryer
  • Camille Frazier
  • Kim Jukic
  • David Bradford

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