From the General Manager
The first week of February is my 12th anniversary as a part of BriarPatch Co-op. Twelve and a half years ago, I was the Food Service Manager at La Montañita Co-op in Albuquerque, NM. I learned about BriarPatch through a former resident of Grass Valley who had previously worked at BriarPatch and who at that the time was doing a similar job at Ashland Food Co-op. She told me about the planned expansion of the co-op’s operation into the new store on Sierra College Drive and let me know that they were opening their first Food Service Department and were in need of a department leader. I reached out to the GM at the time and before too long moved my young family from New Mexico to Northern California.
It was only two short years later, that I was presented with the opportunity to step in as the interim General Manager. This first week of February also marks my tenth anniversary in this role. It is amazing how the co-op has changed in that time. I know many of us still think of the Sierra College Drive store as the “new” store. The fact is, that after twelve years of sustained growth this store has truly hit its stride and occupies an important place in our local community and the lives of our owners and shoppers.
We are now owned by more than 8,500 local owners while welcoming non-owner shoppers from our local area and beyond. We purchase from over 50 local farms and producers contributing over $1 million annually into our local community for those products. We support hundreds of local community organizations and have developed a series of community partners with whom we coordinate activities and events. These collaborations are an incredibly significant part of making Nevada County a truly exceptional place to reside.
In addition to our local activities, we are recognized among our food co-op peers as a leader in the industry. In late January, the Board of Directors of the National Co-op Grocers held their board meeting here in Grass Valley and visited our store. Our store was recognized in 2018 as a standard bearer for cooperative excellence by the Consumer Cooperatives Management Association.
With all this success, it is natural that we should look to the future and imagine what the next phase of our cooperative development will look like. I have been deeply engaged with the board to develop that picture. We have taken a three-point strategy for continuing the positive trends of our co-op. The first is continued investment in our store and development of our trade area. We continue to implement changes to our facility and operation that support our master plan. This plan is focused on improving the customer experience and offering more of the best products and services in the organic food movement today. Our second strategy includes looking at how we can expand our current trade area to broaden and extend our cooperative impact to other nearby communities. We believe that BriarPatch has something truly unique to offer and we seek to bring more people into the fold. Lastly, we see opportunity to deepen our collaboration with other food co-ops both locally and nationally.
Our success is a testament to the strength and durability of the cooperative model. Thanks for all of your support of the co-op. We couldn’t do it without you.