We had our first open day on 3rd May in 2011, having arrived at exactly ten years of operation.
In 2011, when we had our first open day with twelve members and 28 products on offer, we did not envisage the successful outcome we now experience. Apart from the aims of the co-operative that you will be familiar with, I believe a huge contributing factor is an underlying appreciation at the food coop for the friendly atmosphere when shopping, and the empowerment of an independent group running it. It has enabled friendships to develop and provides an opportunity for like minded people to share company and commitment.
We now stock 120 food items determined by request, quality of the product, availability, from where that product is sourced, and of course, popularity.
Membership sits at around 70. This fluctuates over any given year, but importantly there is a large group of regular shoppers requiring us to open once per week.
Over the years, I have particularly enjoyed researching products and discovering new suppliers. There has always been opportunity to introduce new products and discontinue others not so popular. In all we have twelve product suppliers. We are proud to support many valued local and regional producers in our district such as King Valley Walnuts, Florence Court Olive Oil from Benalla, Lima East honey, nuts and seeds from the Pumpkin Seed Company, and our latest addition, Apple Cider Vinegar from Stanley.
There are a huge number of tasks required with running the food co-op. Duty managers, duty assistants, computer operators, taking delivery of products, unpacking products, paying the bills and the list goes on. It was always my belief that by spreading these tasks amongst the members, we are in the true sense a 'co-operative', run by the members. This has enabled us to keep the prices affordable whilst offering high quality products, benefitting all who participate.
Drastic changes to our operational procedures required to comply with COVID restrictions in 2020, became a serious focal point. We were no less busy than usual with a large number of community members joining the food co-op throughout the early part of COVID restrictions. In recent times we have been able to relax many of those procedures whilst continuing to maintain a COVID safe environment.
Ten years is good reason for some celebratory events, the first being, and a lucky door prize for the tenth customer, who shopped on the 3rd May 2021. Then on the 4th June, food co-op members are invited to attend a dinner to celebrate 10 years of operation along with my retirement.
After ten years as coordinator, I felt it was time that I hand over to someone else. Susanne Bennett came to mind and after some thought, she agreed to take on the position for which we can all be grateful. We can look forward to a committed member who will bring leadership and a lovely presence to the forefront. I wish Susanne all the best, lots of fun and with the knowledge that you have the support of all the committee with you.