Chris Riddell

  • published 2017 Board Candidates 2017-06-09 16:57:32 -0400

    2017 Board Candidates

    These are the candidates for the board seats with terms expiring in 2019.  You can vote for candidates at the annual meeting on June 27 or online here.

    Candidates were asked to address the following areas in their statements:

    • Current employment and work experience
    • Previous Board experience
    • What skills would you bring to the Board of Directors for Granite City Grocery (including training, education, or experience that qualifies you to sit on the Board)?
    • Why would you like to serve on GCG’s Board of Directors?
    • What is your vision for GCG 10 years down the road and what role would you play to achieve that vision?
    • Can you make commitment for the entire length of the term to the responsibilities outlined in the candidate’s packet?

    Phil Kolling

    I currently work as Executive Director of SerVermont, which is Vermont's State Service
    Commission. We are a commission within the Agency of Human Services that is
    governed by Governor appointed commissioners, and oversees AmeriCorps and other
    national service programs in Vermont. In this role I oversee and administer over $2
    million in federal grant programming, mainly AmeriCorps State and VISTA grants, and
    oversee Vermont's AmeriCorps grant making process. I have experience directing
    start-up organizations and programs, including founding the SerVermont AmeriCorps
    VISTA Program, serving as first Director of the Boys and Girls Club in Everett MA, and
    growing the Berkshire Teen Trail Crew program of the Appalachian Mountain Club. I
    served as a VISTA member with Montpelier Parks developing their youth diversion
    program, and as an AmeriCorps Trail Team Leader for the Maine Conservation Corps. I
    currently serve on the Board of Directors of America's Service Commissions, whose
    mission is to advance national service, volunteerism, and the national network of state
    service commissions.I have served as an appointed member of the GCG board since
    November 2014, was elected to the board in June of 2015, and currently serve as board

    I have extensive experience with start-up initiatives and organizational development,
    and have participated in extensive professional development and training in the social
    sector. I have a Masters of Science in Managing Mission Driven Organizations from
    Marlboro College Graduate School, and a BS in Community Development from the
    University of New Hampshire. I am also trained in Results Based Accountability, and as
    a Results Based Accountability Trainer, have my Certificate in Nonprofit Management,
    and am a member of the Vermont Leadership Class of 2017. As Executive Director of
    an organization with a small staff, the skills I use professionally range from grant writing
    to communications and social media, program development, compliance monitoring,
    event planning, strategic planning, and performance and staff management.

    My family and I moved to Barre Town in November 2011. At the time downtown Barre
    was ripped up and in the middle or revitalization, but the vision was and still is there.
    Downtown has come alive since then, and my family and I spend lots of time in town
    eating and shopping at local businesses. What is missing is Granite City Grocery, a
    community grocery for everyone. Such an entity appeals to me and my family because
    it would fill a void in access to food, and provide easy access to healthy nutritious food
    for all. When we learned about GCG shortly after moving to Barre we joined, knowing
    that we believe in accessible, fresh, affordable food. As an AmeriCorps VISTA Alum
    and someone who has spent my career fighting poverty, I know the role that access to
    food can play, and I want to do my part to address it in my community. I have skills and
    experience that could benefit the GCG board, and I want to utilize those skills to
    continue to establish and grow GCG.

    Ten years from now I hope we (owners and the community) will be preparing to
    celebrate 10 years of being open, and perhaps even looking to expand or having
    recently completed an expansion. When you walk in the store you will find your
    neighbors, friends, and lots of other folks shopping. GCG will be an anchor in the food
    community, and the Barre City / Barre Town community overall. I picture community
    events taking place in the space, and an inter-generational crowd getting involved in a
    wide variety of programming. I see people coming out of their homes, and walking to the
    conveniently located Co-Op without having to ride a bus, or walk too far in the snow. I
    see GCG as a true solution to providing accessible, affordable, nutritious food to the
    Barre community.

    I can commit to the term of service, and the commitments of serving on the board. I am
    a member/owner of GCG.

    Clay Whitney

    I work for a cooperative (Cabot Creamery), am a member/owner/volunteer of another (Adamant Co-op), and a member/owner of Granite City Grocery.  Part of my job is to visit food co-ops around the country to cooperate with them in accordance with the 6th Rochdale Principle: “Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.”  I attend national and regional co-op meetings (CCMA, NFCA [New England], MAFCA [MidAtlantic]), work with NCG (National Co-op Grocers), and have helped to organize a first-time meeting of all the various types of co-ops in Philadelphia.  I also work with individual, and groups of, food co-ops to try to solve distribution problems.

    While presenting available Cabot outreach support, and programs aimed at cooperative education and volunteerism, to the co-ops I visit, I learn a great deal about what other start-ups are doing that is successful, and what existing co-ops did to get themselves to their opening day, and to prosper since then.  There are many common hurdles, a good number of unusual ones, and many creative ways co-ops have found to get over them.

    I’ve never been to a food co-op that is the same as any other.  Every co-op is an expression of the community it’s in, the people who own it, and the people who staff it.  Barre needs a co-op that will meet the needs of local natural and conventional food shoppers in much the same way City Market – the most successful single co-op in the U.S. -- did in Burlington with a mix of products.  Our grocery will be the “beating heart” of Barre: a center of community; a resource for locally produced food as well as national brands; and a source of local pride.    

    Since joining the GCG Board in January of 2015, I have participated in our board meetings, taken co-op training courses, and joined the Member Development/Community Outreach Committee (chairperson since 2016).  The Committee works to reach out to individuals, employers and civic groups to find new member/owners; develop events for owners and to attract new members; and create marketing materials to promote the GCG in and around Barre.  I’m looking forward to continuing to help give direction to our co-op so it grows…opens…meets your needs…and thrives.

    Jan Zemba

    I am a relative newcomer to Barre City, having moved here in September 2014. We lived here for a
    year in an apartment, found we liked the area and bought our house. It took us a little while to find
    your group, but it was an easy decision to join Granite City Grocery - I believe that co-ops can be
    strong members of community life. My work has always been in education - I teach science and math
    at the Initiative, a Waldorf high school on Goddard's Campus. At a startup everyone wears many
    hats - beyond teaching I carry many of the administrative tasks for the school: scheduling, registrar,
    finance management, all of which I have also done on occasion at previous schools.

    I served on the school's board when I lived in Saratoga Springs (Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs)
    and previously on a church board, serving at different times as a general member, secretary or
    treasurer. Serving on the Board of a non-profit such as these or the Granite City Grocery, I know it is
    important to retain a clear picture of the goals of the organization. The work of the Board is to support
    the mission and move it forward, not to drive one's personal agenda. This work has been really
    rewarding and I enjoy the opportunities for collaboration and community work.

    I bring strong organizing capacities, ability to take minutes, and familiarity with spreadsheets, balance
    sheets, quickbooks (in a school and non-profit setting, not retail). I have experience with consensus
    decision making as well as voting board structures. The current group of teachers I work with is
    entirely horizontal, with no administrative head, so I have a lot of experience with collaborative
    decision making as well as turning tasks and work over to an individual and empowering them to make
    something happen!

    I am now in the position of having time available and am looking for places and organizations with
    which I'd like to spend it. I like fresh food, local food, supporting my home community and it's growth.
    I think the more we can make good food accessible the better for everyone! The school that I work at
    has students cooking lunch for each other, often from local foods, as an integral part of our week.
    Beyond that, supporting the forward movement of the co-op is supporting Barre- as simple as that. My
    hope is that we will find the right place and time for the beginning of GCG. With that solid beginning
    my hope is that in ten years, the co-op will be an integral part of Barre's community- a part of the
    business life of the city as well as the social and communal life of residents and those who work in
    Barre. I've seen partnering with Barre businesses occurring- very encouraging steps! Often it can be
    difficult to go from an idea or possibility into manifesting a plan of steps to make it happen or to
    evaluate it's possibilities. I see that as a real strength that I can offer.

    I am also willing and able to assist in ways other than serving on the board. Regardless of my service
    on the board, supporting GCG is something I'd like to do.

  • published Barre Farmers Market in Blog 2015-04-19 10:49:40 -0400

    Barre Farmers Market

    Meet new people and spread the word about GCG!  We're looking for folks to table at the Barre Farmers Market this year.

    Read more

  • published Upcoming Events 2013-09-12 16:39:02 -0400

  • commented on Vote For Your Favorite GCG T-Shirt Design! 2013-08-23 15:37:14 -0400
    I vote for #2 Heart!
  • commented on Join now 2013-07-23 20:59:03 -0400
    Thanks for the feedback! I’ve added the address. Also, you can complete the online form and choose “check” if you want to pay the old-fashioned way but still save a stamp!
  • published Contact 2013-07-23 16:24:47 -0400

    Contact Us

    Questions?  Comments?  Ideas for moving Granite City Grocery forward?  We want to hear from you!  Use the form below or leave a message at (802) 622-1555.

    If you are ready to become an owner, complete our online ownership form.

    Send message

  • published FAQs 2013-07-22 21:52:42 -0400


    When are we going to open?

    The Site Committee of volunteers and industry professionals has identified potential sites in our downtown and has reached out to developers to see who will take the next step with us. The developers have asked us to demonstrate sustained membership growth to show that we will have the resources to make our grocery store a success.

    We need your help! Tell friends and family why you joined our co-op family. Let them know that they can join through our website, get the latest information in our e-newsletter, and talk to us each Saturday during coffee on the co-op at Espresso Bueno from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

    Where is the store going to be?

    We are committed to being downtown, that is part of our mission.  Our site committee, which is comprised of volunteers and development and real estate professionals, has been managing a list of potential sites in the downtown that fit the needs defined by our market study.  The next step in determining which site will create a successful store is to attract a developer to our project. 

    How many members do we need to open the store?

    Believe it or not, there is no magic number that will open the store.  We need to prove to developers that we can sustain a rate of growth in our membership. We need all of you to open the store!

    What have you done with our money?

    Our co-operative already has overhead expenses such as insurance, consultant fees, and outreach expenses.  Some of this has been offset through our active pursuit of grant funding.  Members can review our balance sheet or profit and loss statement upon request.

    Where will the rest of the financing come from to open our store?

    We will coordinate a capital campaign to raise the first round of funding.  Our complete financial package will be a mix of preferred shares, member loans, grant financing, as well as funds from a collection of financial institutions

    Why become an owner?

    Joining now is an active step in making our community a better place to live.  Join now and bring us one step closer to opening!

  • published Mission, Vision, and Values in About GCG 2013-07-22 21:52:24 -0400

    Mission, Vision, and Values

    Our Mission

    To bring healthy, affordable food to our community.

    Our Vision

    A vibrant healthy community with access to healthy affordable food through a grocery store.

    Our Values

    Open To All: We are open to all members of the community; everyone can shop and anyone can become an owner.

    Sustainability: We are committed to sustainable business practices that ensure we are a resource for the community for generations to come.

    Community: We are committed to serving as a community hub where people can gather, connect, grow and learn through education, training and information.

    Co-operation: We are committed to upholding the Seven Cooperative Principles which include:

    1. Voluntary and Open Membership - Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or disability discrimination.

    2. Democratic Member Control - Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.

    3. Members’ Economic Participation - Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.

    4. Autonomy and Independence - Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.

    5. Education, Training and Information - Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.

    6. Cooperation among Cooperatives - Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

    7. Concern for Community - While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.

  • published Board of Directors in About GCG 2013-07-22 21:52:10 -0400

    Board of Directors

     Nick Landry - President


    I am the IT specialist at the Aldrich Library. My background is small business start-ups and my formal education was focused on developing local economies. I assisted with the coordination of the Barre Heritage Festival for four years and this will be my fifth year working with the Granite City Grocery.

    Barre has seen many changes in the last few years. We have seen our city undergo an impressive facelift, and she is still growing. Granite City Grocery is part of that growth. I am looking forward to it becoming the heart of our ever growing community.

    Granite City Grocery will provide healthy affordable food to our community. It will be a gathering place and a community center. Founding the Granite City Grocery makes Barre a better community and a better city for us all to live in.


     Bruce Landry – Vice PresidentClay_2.jpg

    Professionally my background is in energy efficiency and construction. I am a self employed Energy Consultant specializing in deep energy retrofits with the goal to eliminate fossil fuel or greatly reduce its use in residential housing.

    Privately, I have always been community minded and active wherever I can help. That is why I have been involved with Habitat for Humanity and why I joined the Granite City Grocery site committee. Everyone knows we need a grocery store in Barre and I want to get involved at the board level where decisions are made about the direction the Granite City Grocery is going.

    My vision is more than a grocery store but more as a community hub where people shop for food, stop for lunch, congregate at the farmers market if space is available, have forums on healthy food choices and food preparation for folks that were never exposed to healthy food. To be an activity center that brings people to Barre. 

    My long-term goal is to get a store open and operational. This board will play a crucial role in the decisions that will need to be made, in a timely order. By staying focused and working together, we can make that happen.


    Kyle Lanzit - Secretary Kyle_2.jpg

     I have a background in environmental policy, sustainability, and organics management. I am currently employed at Grow Compost of Vermont, managing their commercial food scrap diversion program. Before that, I worked for another family-owned organics firm, Empire Zero. From 2011-2013, I served on the Board of Directors of ECOS, an environmental education and stewardship organization based in Niskayuna, NY.

    I relish being able to make a measurable difference at my job every day, and strongly believe that Granite City Grocery will do the same for Barre. This community needs and deserves an affordable outlet for Vermont’s incredible bounty of agricultural products, and a place for Barre’s boundless energy and creativity to flourish. I am member #638, and am proud to bring a locally-owned and community-driven enterprise to one of Vermont’s most historic and wonderful towns.


    Heather Runk - TreasurerHeather.jpg

    I am currently employed at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and work in the Corporate Accounting department. I have worked for this company for 11 years in various departments and roles.  

    Something that I hear so often is that Barre is a food desert. While I completely agree with this statement, I believe that is only part of our local dilemma. This area is lacking a central hub, a place that brings all of us together for any reason.

    I joined Granite City Grocery for the opportunity to be part of this growing community. To help build it up and see it take off. To me, co-op means community and I want nothing more that to be included in this positive action we are taking.


    Melissa Pecor

    I am currently self employed at Quarry Kitchen & Spirits.  I started in 2011 as a server and bartender working part time around my full time job while raising 2 boys as a single mom.  My now husband and I purchased the business in 2016 and have been working diligently to increase our brand awareness as well as revenue while also trying to help make our community one that we can all be proud of. 

    Previously I worked in sales for a local radio station and import granite company as well as managing local fast food restaurants Dominos Pizza and Dunkin Donuts.  My customer service, leadership and relationship building skills benefit to the Granite City Grocery board.

    I would like to lend a hand in the process of building and sustaining a much needed “walking distance” grocery store to our area.  Not only would it be great to be able to shop there ourselves, but to be able to recommend others to shop there.  The need for Granite City Grocery is no more evident to me than when I see locals “grocery shopping” at convenience stores. 

    I would love to see Granite City Grocery as a place where EVERYONE feels welcome and can afford to do their household grocery shopping.   I am open to suggestion as to how my experience and expertise can benefit the Granite City Grocery going forward.

  • published Board Minutes in Board of Directors 2013-07-22 21:51:27 -0400

  • published About GCG 2013-07-22 21:51:13 -0400

    About GCG

    Barre has always had a grocery store.

    Barre City has always had a downtown grocery store providing fresh meats, produce, and affordable packaged goods. Post-WWII, it was the A&P and then it was the Grand Union. But, in the early 2000’s, the Grand Union closed due to reasons unrelated to market (its former manager cites the store as being the most profitable in the region). Its closure left a noticeable gap in the availability of quality, fresh and packaged foods available in the downtown at affordable prices. While corner stores, community markets, and convenience stores exist in and around the downtown, they offer a limited choice of items in small packaging priced for convenience not value.

    Without a grocery store, access to fresh and affordable food is limited.

    While there are grocery shopping options just several miles outside of Barre’s downtown, bus or car is required to reach them. Today, some downtown residents with limited means of transportation walk to Rite Aid and Dollar General to purchase their basic necessities and canned and packaged foods, often paying more per pound for their food than others who can easily access larger markets by bus or car several miles away. While public transportation is available, buses run every half hour making it difficult for busy families to work, care for their children, and shop with convenience. Fresh meats, produce and affordable, healthy packaged foods are not available within walking distance to most downtown residents. And, dry goods sold in bulk quantities is available 20 minutes away by bus at Hannafords in South Barre and Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier.

    Barre lacks a community anchor which grocery stores often provide.

    At the same time, residents in the surrounding environ and daytime workers in downtown Barre miss the convenience of shopping a full-service grocery in the downtown. Since Grand Union closed, residents have consistently pointed to the need for a grocery store in the downtown. In addition to wanting access to food, residents want a center for community life and a hub for social activity - a role which a downtown market has historically provided in most downtown communities.

    The community expresses its desire for a grocery store.

    This community sentiment bubbled to the surface in a 2004 market study, commissioned by the downtown Barre merchants association (The Barre Partnership). Results of a community survey pointed to the desire for a downtown store. The report highlighted this sentiment and confirmed that grocery stores located in the downtown do indeed contribute to a vibrant community center.

    Attempts to attract a privately-owned grocery store come up short.

    In 2009, the City decided to purchase, raze, and support the redevelopment of the former Brooks Drug building (now the City Place development). City Place was seen as an opportunity to bring a privately-owned private grocery store to downtown Barre. When those efforts did not turn up any takers, a core group of Barre residents came together in July 2012 to explore the feasibility of starting a co-operatively owned grocery store with the goal of meeting Barre’s diverse need for affordable, convenient, local, and healthy food.

    And, with that, the Granite City Co-op, Inc., dba Granite City Grocery was born!

    Recognizing that noone is going to come in and meet our needs possibly better than we can, we stepped up to the plate. We incorporated on July 31, 2012, raised money for our market and feasibility study from grants and community contributions, garnered over 600 pledges from people in the community who want to become owners, seated a founding board, and are bringing a market analysis consultant to Barre in July 2013 to analyze a short list of potential sites. While the conversation about starting a community-owed grocery store was prompted by City Place, we have learned that City Place may not be as promising a location as first thought. We have identified several other locations that could possibly serve as a better location. We look forward to learning from our market analyst which site will work best for us. Most importantly, we are committed to a downtown location.

    Why now?

    For too long, downtown Barre has lacked a grocery store. If we want a healthy community, we need to invest in healthy options that are affordable and accessible. And, with the high probability of at least 200 to 300 full-time workers moving their offices to downtown Barre in the next 2 years, the time might just be ripe to build a community-owned grocery store.

    Come join us on this important journey!


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