A Smart Approach to Sustainability
At our annual meeting this June, the Rutland Area Food Co-op’s board of directors is asking co-op members to vote in favor of transitioning to the Patronage System. Below is a quick overview of what this is and why we believe it will help us become a stronger, more sustainable food cooperative. Want a more detailed explanation? Read the letter from our board over on our blog page.
- Will we keep other discounts?
Yes. The senior discount and supplement discounts will remain, as well as member sales and regular monthly sales.
- This method seems like it caters to people who spend more money.
The Patronage Refund is determined by how much a member spends at the Co-op. However, every member receives a refund at the same rate. This is not all that different than our current 2% member discount. For instance, If a member spends $100, they receive a $2 discount. If a member only spends a dollar, they only receive a two-cent discount.
- How soon will this start?
At the beginning of our next fiscal year after member approval. If approved at the annual meeting in June 2018, it would go into effect in April 2019.
- What happens to my current membership?
Your membership doesn’t change because of the patronage refund system. However, we realize the need to update our membership process and implement more efficient record keeping in order to make this a successful effort.
UPDATE: Patronage has been Approved!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 7th, 2018
Contact: Zach Stevens, General Manager
Rutland Area Food Co-op Members vote to adopt Patronage Refund System
RUTLAND, Vermont- June 7th, 2018 – On Wednesday night, between 130-150 Rutland Area Food Co-op members, staff and their families attended the 24th Annual Member Meeting & Celebration, held on the lawn abutting the Co-op. Three local vendors, whose products are available at the Co-op, joined the Meeting, sampling their locally made products; TreTap of Fairfax, VT; One:29 Living Foods of Salem, NY; and The Vermont Spätzle Company of Arlington, VT. Miss Guided Angels supplied the musical accompaniment, while Olivia’s Market, catered with fantastic meat, veggie, and gluten-free lasagnas, along with the Co-op Kitchen who prepared salads. Members brought along potluck desserts to round out the dinner.
Chris Littler, Treasurer of the Co-op Board; Hannah Abrams, Facilitator of the Co-op Board; and Zach Stevens, General Manager, spoke to the members and staff on the health of the business, plans for expansion, and the introduction of a Member Loan program to be rolled out in September 2018.
The Rutland Co-op has over 2100 members, adding an additional 351 during the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Sales for the 2017-2018 fiscal year were $2,149,242.22, down $5,674.83, but due to better management of product purchasing and intense budget watching, the Co-op is estimating profits of $50,000, $5,000 more than the 2016-2017 fiscal year. This continues a trend of increasing profits and lower operational costs for the Co-op.
Mr. Littler remarked, “Last year when I gave an estimate for our profits, I said we would be making a fiscally conservative estimate between $25,000 to $30,000 in profits. We ended up making $44,787.66. This year we have, from a very conservative estimate, close to $50,000 in profits.”
Ms. Abrams mentioned her thanks to Mark Foley, the Co-op’s landlord, for his consistent support of the Co-op and with his help in planning the expansion. She also remarked that the Co-op has hired a Cooperative consultant to help prepare a financial pro-forma in relation to the future, as well as hiring a project manager to help identify issues, possibilities, and cost analysis as part of the renovation. Ms. Abrams also announced that the board would be starting a Member Loan program to raise funds needed for the expansion/renovation of the store, setting a goal of raising $400,000.
Mr. Stevens thanked the staff members of the Co-op, stating, “The people that work here have an ability to adjust on they fly, stay positive, and are extremely resourceful, this is a driving factor in our successes.”
Co-op member and Mayor of Rutland, VT, David Allaire, was also in attendance, agreeing with a staff member that the Rutland Co-op is an important part of the Rutland community, employing 18-21 full time and part time staff.
Near the close of the meeting, Larry Gold, a founding Co-op member and the gracious M.C. for the event asked everyone to make sure they voted on the Patronage Refund System. This system, which allows the Co-op Board to allocate profits first to improvements and financial needs of the Co-op, and then pass dividends onto the members. This would replace the 2% up front member discount at the register. When the ballots were counted, the resolution passed, with a near unanimous 72-1 vote in favor of adopting the Patronage Refund System, which will be implemented at the start of the next fiscal year, April 1st, 2019.
Mr. Stevens wrapped his speech pointing out, “We are enthusiastic not only for our future but the future of all Downtown Rutland.”