October update from the General Manager

A happy late October to everyone! There has been quite a bit going on around these parts… my last update was in August, at which time we had announced our next major milestone goals: officially signing our lease and ordering refrigeration. And since then we’ve done both of those things!

Milestones

Firstly, we are now officially tenants in the beautiful Schmid Innovation Center (formerly known as the CARADCO Building) at 955 Washington St, #107 Dubuque, Iowa 52001.  I say ‘officially’ because the great folks at Gronen Properties have actually been reserving this space for us for a couple of years, which is every bit as generous as it sounds.  Secondly, the orders for all of our refrigeration equipment have been placed and we’re awaiting information on potential arrival dates.

I would like to note that the floor plan that was presented to me when I first joined the Dubuque Food Co-op was very sensible and reflected the hard work that the Board had undertaken.  After spending some time with the plan I decided that I wanted to expand upon that work to improve our operational systems and enhance the selection of what we could provide to our members.  The Board gave me the thumbs-up, and I’m proud to say that we’ve successfully updated the design to allow for a better selection of fresh products.  We’ll now be able to provide a more comprehensive Protein program, with red meat, pork, poultry, and seafood, as well as an improved selection of local and specialty cheeses, and our entire fresh food program now will have room to expand in scope as we grow.  It’s exciting to know that we can increase the number of local and sustainable vendors at the DFC and bring even more value to our members.

So what else has been going on beyond our lease and refrigeration milestones? 

• In September we hosted a “Meet The GM” gathering at the store site, at which I spoke a little about my history and introduced my wife Nancy and my daughter Tula.  I also made a point of addressing how lucky the Dubuque is to have a proactive group of individuals who have volunteered, invested, and worked hard to establish a local and democratically-owned source for organic, sustainable, locally produced food (that’s you I’m talking about).  Plus, there was cake.

• We announced that we are looking to open the store in early spring, which is a great time to open a store, both logistically and symbolically.  The changes in the design and the upcoming holidays affected what had to be done and the refrigeration delivery timeline, so we’ve worked with our contractors and our suppliers to define the scope of work needed to open the store, and early spring is realistic.  We intend to have a more specific date in the coming weeks, but cannot do so until construction has started and we’ve accounted for any further delays, and we want a date that we can plan around!

• After the aforementioned meeting, we stuck around and handed out maps for the Driftless Farm Crawl, sending folks off to discover some of the area’s best local producers.  The Crawl was followed that evening by a Farm to Table Dinner, with proceeds going to the Dubuque Rescue Mission Greenhouse Project.  Thanks to Brittany Bethel, Regional Foods Coordinator for Dubuque County ISU Extension, and everyone else involved.

• We’ve been working on an updated website and look forward to launching it very soon.  Now that we’re further along in our build-out we’ll start posting updates regarding vendor and staffing information, and we’ll also have an area specifically for news, particularly regarding the stages of our build-out process.  Plus, we’ve been putting together a more user-friendly Member Application process.

• Karla Braig, our Board Secretary, and I recently had the pleasure to explore some of the building materials that Gronen Properties have been salvaging from their work in the Millwork District.  Our hope is to utilize some of these reclaimed materials for equipment and décor use in the store, which will help us to share the abundant history of the Millwork District as well as supporting our commitment toward sustainability.

• We’re up to 1323 members as of this writing!

Board of Directors (changes and elections)

Board member Tom Goodman has resigned from the Dubuque Food Co-op Board of Directors, and I’d like to personally thank Tom for his ongoing years of work and commitment to our success.  We’re closer than ever… thank you Tom!!

Paul Schultz has graciously agreed to step up and fill Tom’s position on the Board of Directors for the remainder of his term through 2014.  Paul recently retired from the City of Dubuque’s Public Works department, where he was the Resource Management Coordinator.  Paul is passionate about ecological, economic, and social sustainability, and his abundant experience in these fields will be a welcome addition to our Board talents.

Please keep your eyes open for our next newsletter, in which we will discuss our upcoming Board elections and provide information on how to vote.  

Next milestones

Every day we have moments of challenges and successes in this process, but we do have some bigger milestones coming up, including the launch the aforementioned website update and a new construction phase of our store build-out. 

In the meanwhile, autumn is in full swing and our collective plate is full.  Thanks so much, and I look forward to sharing more news soon!

Cheers,

Patrick