Dissing the New Co-op

Dissing the New Co-op

“It feels just like a Whole Foods now,” some complain.

“I prefer Putney,” others say. “That’s a real Co-op.”

What is a real Co-op, I wonder? BFC is the only Co-op that I’ve ever intimately known, and in my 20 years in Vermont, I’ve seen it undergo some pretty radical changes.

Lucky for me, I love all things new. New people. New places. New spaces. But change on this large of a scale is challenging.

I miss the old-old-old kids room. By the front door. With the slide. But I could see how a kids room near an exit could be a misfit. I was especially glad when they moved it a third time–away from the added noise of the smoothie blenders. I come upon the kids room in the new Co-op yet, but I keep hearing about it. That’s how gigantic the new store is.

We all like to complain, don’t we? Especially when we’re anxious.

A bunch of us are complaining about the cheese department, but we’re also thrilled about the sliced cheese in the deli and the promise of pizza. Heck, I’m overjoyed that I don’t have to wait for someone to pour my chai anymore.

Some people say that they might as well shop at Price Chopper or Hannafords, that there’s no difference, especially since they have “natural food” selections too.

For me the greatest difference has always been the cereal aisle. I hardly ever have to fight with my kids in the Co-op.  Generally there’s not going to be candy masquerading as breakfast.

“We own the Co-op, right Mom?” they ask.

“Yep,” I say.

Now that’s a difference that makes ALL the difference.

Kelly Salasin, July 2012

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Farewell Brattleboro Co-op

Farewell Brattleboro Co-op

Minutes before the old Co-op closes its doors for the last time.                                June 14, 2012.     6:40 pm.

I walked through the Co-op tonight for the last time. They’ve started moving without me. We never picked up our mail at the post office this month so we only just discovered that they were closing today at 7:00 pm. For good.

Apparently, they had already moved quite a bit. Every dry good aisle was empty, and it was only the refrigerator and freezer cases that remained stocked. There was a make shift counter in the deli and there we ordered a sandwich in a wrap because there was no more bread. There were no chips either. Except for bags and bags of mesquite bbq ones which obviously need to be discontinued.

We ate our dinner on one of the benches facing the new store in the soft evening sun of early summer. We watched John Hatton, President of the Board, walk back and forth from the old store to the new store and then across the bridge toward Dotties.

Ah, Dotties. That’s the same.

But then again, it isn’t. It hasn’t been around that long. It’s a spring chicken as far as the Co-op goes.

After finishing our wraps, we went to a fabulous movie about aging and India and love and growth. My heart was overflowing by the time it was over, and the new bathroom at Latchis took me by surprise, even though it’s been renovated for quite awhile now.

I miss the old narrow entrance and tight corners of the wooden stalls and tiny porcelain sink. It was terribly impractical and very charming.

I’m getting old. Not quite as old as the brilliant characters in the film, but I’ve been in Vermont long enough to see things really change. Like the Co-op. It’s grown three times since I first started shopping there–almost 20 years ago.

Twenty years! How did that happen?

When I arrived in the Green Mountains from the Jersey Shore, I wasn’t even 30. Since then I’ve watched young children become mothers, and middle-aged friends become elders. I’ve lost some too.

It’s not that I’m nostalgic. I love change. I can’t wait to enjoy the new store. Good riddance to those grimy bathrooms and that over-seated cafe.

And yet, in the passing of the Co-op, and that of old friends, I can feel my own self slipping away. I’m part of all that is passing–because it was once a part of me.

Kelly Salasin, June 2012