Honoring the past and embracing the future

Editor’s Note from Stephanie Mandel

During this anniversary year I’ve been enjoying looking at vintage BriarPatch newsletters. The 1970s were pre-desktop publishing, so all the artwork was done by hand. Co-op artists brought to life briar patches and rabbits. Taking our name literally, some early newsletters were called the “Thorn” and “Barb.”

newsletter May 1981These faded documents remind me how much communication has changed in recent decades. In the ’70s the Co-op newsletter was just about the only carrier of information that is essential to building a cooperative business: elections, changes in the owner/member work program, work parties, food news, etc. Just think — with no website, no email, and no social media, the newsletter was the only medium for getting the word out.

With all the convenient and paperless electronic formats we have today, the good old newsletter has taken a back seat for many. After all, recipes are abundant on the internet. The latest news on food issues such as organic standards and GMO labeling can be found on websites and in emails sent out by watchdog groups like Just Label it, the Center for Food Safety, and Cornucopia Institute. BriarPatch also sends out our own e-newsletter each week, in which we announce our sales and other Co-op news. We’ve recently been experimenting with “Flash Sales” — last-minute sales, mostly of produce, that we can only advertise in the store and in social media. In terms of timeliness, there’s just no comparing these media with a bi-monthly newsletter!

newsletter Spring 1978BriarPatch has come a long way in 40 years. Looking ahead, it’s clear that to continue to succeed in a competitive marketplace we have to keep up with new ways to communicate — with Co-op owners, shoppers, and potential new shoppers. So don’t be surprised as you see the Patch change with the times. This newsletter will be evolving in the coming months, so look for a new design and a new focus on food. As we honor the past, let’s also embrace the future!

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