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Food Co-op in “transformation”, hiring new manager

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By John Colson

Sopris Sun Staff Writer

The Carbondale Community Food Co-op (or Co-op for short) is undergoing “a major transformation” aimed at boosting the store’s inventories and stabilizing the organization’s finances, while paying off old debts to vendors, according to its newsletter and a statement by the Co-op’s board of directors.

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The first sign of the upcoming changes, however, is the appearance of a new face in the store’s office.

Long-time store manager Avtar has left, and board member Julie Edman is standing in as interim store manager while a search committee headed by board member Laurie Guevara-Stone looks for a permanent replacement.

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According to Guevara-Stone, Avtar left the position in mid-December, apparently in keeping with the board’s approval of a “strategic plan for growth.”

The Co-op, located at 559 Main St., has been in business for six years, and a couple of years ago expanded into an adjacent retail space, considerably increasing the size of the operation. It operates on a combination of paid staff and volunteers who receive a discount on goods purchased at the store.

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In a statement issued by board-chair Emily Steers, the board recently “identified the need to adapt and become a leader in the local food movement in order to ensure success [for the store} in both the near and long terms.”

The board concluded that this kind of strategic planning will be part of changes in the “dynamic of our community and local economy,” and will require a set of skills “required to ensure a vibrant business. It is with this realization that the board of directors has come to the conclusion to transition to a new general manager.”

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The Co-op’s board has come up with a set of objectives “we aim to achieve by 2018,” including:

• Investment in a “point of sale” or POS system “so that we can more accurately track our inventory to provide more efficiency in ordering and pricing.”

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• Refining, simplifying and clarifying the store’s systems and procedures, in particular with regard to agreements with “business partners,” so that the organization as a whole “can put more time and energy into cultivating a vibrant culture that meets the needs of the CCFC’s member-owners, as well as our local and global community.”

• Becoming a “food hub” for local farmers, working with the Roaring Fork Food Alliance to cultivate links to local agricultural operations.

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• And setting up a “give-back program to lend a helping hand however we can to those in need in our community.”

Regarding the change in management, Steers wrote, “We are extremely grateful for the strong foundation Avtar has created for the CCFC and now it is time for us to build upon all that she has so diligently nurtured.”

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The search for a permanent replacement, Steers wrote, will focus on “key attributes” that include “financial acuity, social marketing expertise and general knowledge of the natural foods industry.”

Guevara-Stone told The Sopris Sun that the job opening has been advertised locally and nationally, and that applications will be accepted until Jan. 15.

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Already, Guevara-Stone reported, about a dozen applications have been received, “and (we) have some great candidates. We are starting interviews this week, and hope to have someone hired in the next couple of weeks.”

Published in The Sopris Sun on January 7, 2016.