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Construction on our Expanded Eau Claire Store Begins

​I love this busiest time of year at ​f​ood co-ops;​ I call it ​“The ​Season of ​​Eating.” From pumpkins and turkeys provided by our ​wonderful local growers to delicious curbside dinners, specialty baking items, and lots of wonderful gift ideas for you and your family, it’s time to connect over food. I can’t wait to taste Layne‘s annual treat of Tom & Jerry batter mix, I’m excited for​ my Thanksgiving guests to gawk over my turkeys, and I ​look forward to seeing you all at the ​​Holiday ​Hoopla ​on December 2nd and 3rd. ​Each year, I manage the cheese display, and I’ll open up anything you want to try!​ If you are an ​Eau Claire shopper, consider visiting us in Menomonie on Friday or Saturday for the ​​Hoopla​; it will give you a feel for what events hosted in your new location on Barstow Street may be like​ next year.​ ​Great deals, gift ideas, and lots of yummy samples to try… This is the weekend when you see the most hugs in the aisles!

Now that a few weeks have passed since our groundbreaking ceremony, we are already seeing progress made on our new building on the corner of Barstow and Galloway​ in Eau Claire,​ and that will soon become even more obvious as the​ elevator shaft and​ walls go up. Our plans are chugging along; we’re ​making decisions about exactly where the electrical outlets should go, how many mop sinks we need, ​and what kind of tables and chairs to select for the beautiful event space​ upstairs. There is so much extra work happening ​in addition to running our two locations right now, and I’d like to call out two really great helpers behind the scenes. ​​Astrid Hayden, formerly our ​​Administrative ​Services ​Manager, has been a Special Projects Coordinator​ over this last year. She was instrumental in our capital campaign, and now her attention is turned towards helping ​ ensure that ​our organizational systems, communications processes, and technology are updated and upgraded to be ready for our growth. Thank you to Astrid! And Cari Witcher, a long-ago former employee and board president, is taking up a project that she championed in 2015 in Menomonie. Cari will be organizing much of the equipment, furniture, fixtures, and new technology​ ​purchases ​for our new space. We currently have a list of about 3,000 items that need to be located inside the new store. Cari will meticulously go over bids for all of those objects, keeping her eye on the many equipment auctions out there right now, and she will find us the best pricing and quality. Thank you to Cari! Last time around, she saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I’m sure that will happen again with her diligence.

I’m filled with gratitude for the way that our ownership has embraced the growth and change of our co-op over these past two years. A lot has happened, and all of it has been in the context of a busy and complex world. Thank you for hanging with us, for your bright smiles at the counter, for asking great questions, for supporting your co-op by purchasing Class C shares, or by spreading the word about what we do. We appreciate you!

This article was originally published in the November/December 2022 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.

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