Next time you find yourself in need of a new stash of your favorite stationery or office supplies, we invite you to keep it local with Main Street Stationery! This anchor of Middlebury’s Main Street offers a complete line of office supplies, greeting cards, gifts, art supplies, full-color copy services and fax services. As an authorized FedEx agent, they can also assist you with your shipping needs. They’re our featured Co-op Connection Business this month, so we’re reminding member-owners to flash their Co-op Card next time they visit Main Street Stationery in exchange for a 10% discount!
To get the scoop on the rich history of this Middlebury landmark, I reached out to owner Greg Tomb for a little Q & A:
Co-op: Hi Greg! How long have you been in the stationery and office supply business?
Greg: I purchased Main Street Stationery from the previous owner, Chris Sheldon, in 1986. However, the store had been around for more than a decade at that point under various owners and in various locations. My associate, Paula, can tell you more about the history of the store, as she has been a part of the business since May of 1974.
Paula: The business was founded in 1972 by Rachel & Greg Cotting under the name “Middlebury Office Supply”. It was located on Merchant’s Row in one of the shop locations under the Town Hall Theater. The ownership of the store changed hands a few times – first to Bob Whittamore, then to Chal Schley, next to Chris Sheldon, and finally to Greg Tomb. The store has always lived in the heart of Middlebury’s downtown but in various locations. It moved from Merchant’s Row to Main Street sometime in the early 1970s into the space currently occupied by Middlebury Mountaineer. It was much more recently that Main Street Stationery found it’s current home at 40 Main Street.
Co-op: What is your favorite thing about being in this line of work?
Greg: I enjoy dealing with people. We have a lot of loyal local customers and I enjoy getting to know them and learning how best to meet their needs. Being in this business since the mid-’80s, I feel like I’ve been able to experience a slice of Middlebury culture pass before my eyes. I also enjoy meeting out of town visitors to our community and find that they are often overwhelmed with nostalgia when they visit our store. There aren’t many stores like ours that have survived the test of time and visitors often comment on how much they miss visiting their neighborhood stationery store. I like being able to provide a trip down memory lane for these folks.
Co-op: What are the biggest changes have you experienced over the years of owning and operating Main Street Stationery?
Greg: So much has changed! When I first purchased the business, there were no big box stores like Staples or online retailers like Amazon. When people needed office supplies, they visited their neighborhood stationery store. There have also been tremendous changes in technology since I first acquired the business. Adapting and remaining relevant in the face of these changes has been a great challenge. We’re grateful to have such steadfast support from our local community and would like to say thank you to the folks who choose to support a small local business like ours!
Perhaps you’ve been wondering why we have a gigantic wooden ear of corn at the store entry? We call it the Big Corn and it comes out every September during our Eat Local Challenge to help us track the amount of money paid to local farmers and producers throughout the month. Last year, thanks to your purchases of local products, we were able to pay over $529,204 to our local farmers and producers! Help us shatter that record this year by purchasing Vermont products all month long and track the progress on the Big Corn! And guess what? Buying local might just win you even more than a kitchen full of delicious Vermont products. Read on to find out how your local purchases could add up to winnings:
Want to BUY LOCAL at THE CO-OP? Look for this sign:
Why Buy Local?
1. Local Food Supports Local Farm Families.
Farmers are a vanishing breed, and it’s no surprise given that commodity prices are at historic lows, often below the cost of production. The farmer now gets less than 10 cents of the retail food dollar. When you purchase local produce from the Co-op, the farmer gets a significantly larger share, which means farm families can afford to stay on the farm, doing the work they love.
2. Local Food Supports our Local Economy.
Over 60,000 Vermonters are directly employed in Vermont’s food system. Nearly 12,000 businesses are part of Vermont’s food system. When measured by employment and gross state product, food manufacturing is the second-largest manufacturing industry in Vermont. Milk from Vermont’s dairy farms typically accounts for upwards of 70% of the state’s agricultural products sales, generating $2.2 billion in economic activity annually. A wide range of nondairy farms of all sizes also produces fruits and vegetables, livestock, hay, maple products, and specialty crops for local and regional markets. Vermont’s dynamic and evolving food system is also made up of entrepreneurs creating a variety of value-added products (e.g., cured meats, baked goods, beer, chocolate); thousands of market outlets; sophisticated distribution networks; and dozens of organizations, programs, and volunteer-driven activities that provide business planning, technical assistance, education, and outreach activities.
3. Local Food Builds Community.
When you buy local produce, you are re-establishing a time-honored connection between the eater and the grower. Knowing the farmers gives you insight into the seasons and the miracle of raising food. In many cases, it gives you access to a farm where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture. Relationships built on understanding and trust can thrive.
4. Local Food Preserves Open Space.
As the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely. You have probably enjoyed driving out into the country and appreciated the lush fields of crops, the meadows of wildflowers, the picturesque red barns. That landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy locally grown food, you’re doing something proactive about preserving the agrarian landscape.
5. Local Food Keeps Your Taxes In Check.
Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas suburban development costs more than it generates in taxes. On average, for every $1 in
revenue raised by residential development, governments must spend $1.17 on services, thus requiring higher taxes of all taxpayers. For each dollar of revenue
raised by farm, forest, or open space, governments spend only 34 cents on services.
6. Local Food Supports a Clean Environment and Benefits Wildlife.
A well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued. Good stewards of the land grow cover crops to prevent erosion and replace nutrients used by their crops. Cover crops also capture carbon emissions and help combat global warming. According to some estimates, farmers who practice conservation tillage could sequester 12-14% of the carbon emitted by vehicles and industry. In addition, the habitat of a farm – the patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds, and buildings – is the perfect environment for many beloved species of wildlife, including bluebirds, killdeer, herons, bats, and rabbits.
7. Local Food Preserves Genetic Diversity.
In the modern industrial agricultural system, varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and withstand harvesting equipment; for a tough skin that can survive packing and shipping; and for an ability to have a long shelf life in the store. Only a handful of hybrid varieties of each fruit and vegetable meet those rigorous demands, so there is little genetic diversity in the plants grown. Local farms, in contrast, tend to opt for more variety to provide a long season of harvest, an array of eye-catching colors, and the best flavors. Many varieties are heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation because they taste good and are regionally adapted to our unique growing conditions here in Vermont. These heirloom varieties contain genetic material from hundreds or even thousands of years of human selection; they may someday provide the genes needed to create varieties that will thrive in a changing climate.
8. Locally grown food tastes better.
Food grown in your own community was probably picked within the past day or two. It’s crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Produce flown or trucked in from
California, Florida, Chile, or Holland is, quite understandably, much older. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles. In a week-long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality.
9. Local Produce is Better For You.
Studies show that fresh produce loses nutrients quickly. Food that is frozen or canned soon after harvest is actually more nutritious than some ‘fresh’ produce that has been on the truck or supermarket shelf for a week. Locally grown food, purchased soon after harvest, retains its nutrients.
10. Local Food Is About The Future.
By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow and ensure that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food. One of the lessons we learned during the pandemic was that our national supply chain is quite fragile. There were times when our shelves would have been bare if not for our local farmers and producers and this awareness helped reinforce the reality that localized food systems are necessary for food security and food sovereignty.
This week’s Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on Aqua ViTea! All of their non-alcoholic Kombucha is 20% off for member-owners from September 2nd – 8th! Read on to learn more about this unique local business with humble beginnings on a Salisbury Farm!
Aqua ViTea began in 2007 in the Salisbury, Vermont farmhouse of Jeff Weaber and Dr. Katina Martin, based on the naturopathic principle of “food as medicine.” Weaber and Martin had just relocated to Vermont after 9 years in Portland, Oregon, where Katina pursued medical degrees in Naturopathy, Midwifery, and Acupuncture and Jeff served as the brewer for The Lucky Labrador Brewing Company. Honing the craft of fermentation at work and learning about functional foods and the governing role of the digestive system from Katina at home led Weaber to discover the wonders of Kombucha.
By 2007, he was selling his Kombucha to the happy crowds at the Middlebury Farmers Market under the Aqua ViTea brand and in 2008, he began bottling his product and selling wholesale to our Co-op and a handful of other local markets. By 2014, demand began to outpace production capacity, and plans to move Aqua ViTea’s production off the farm began to ferment. They first moved to a state-of-the-art facility in Bristol, VT, followed by yet another upgrade in 2017 to an even more impressive facility — the former home of Woodchuck Cider just off of Exchange Street in Middlebury. Today, the rapidly growing company is the largest Kombucha producer on the east coast and proudly brews low sugar, alcohol-free, organic kombucha with naturally abundant probiotics, enzymes, and antioxidants, whose balanced blend of sparkling refreshment and bold flavor makes it the perfect substitute for juice or soda.
As the business grew, Weaber called on Mike Kin, who was a close friend of Weaber’s in Oregon, and convinced him to move to Vermont with his family to become the company’s brewer. If you dig the artwork on Aqua ViTea’s packaging and materials as much as we do, you’ve got Mike to thank for these. He sketches each one by hand, creating the funky, colorful, amazing signature artwork that you see on all of AquaVitea’s products!
Commitment to Authenticity
Many commercially available Kombucha brands have been found to contain significantly more sugar and alcohol than their labels disclose. Additionally, some large-scale Kombucha products are being manufactured in a lab setting, force carbonated, and even pasteurized, with the probiotic cultures added artificially as “ingredients” to the end product.
Aqua ViTea, since day one, has shown a deep commitment to authenticity. This begins by sourcing the highest quality ingredients, including sustainably sourced organic tea from Middlebury’s Stone Leaf Teahouse and organic cane sugar to feed the ferment. Their Kombucha is the product of a live, active fermentation, which allows the live cultures and enzymes to develop naturally and delivers the tangy effervescence that Kombucha drinkers love. They are one of only two kombucha makers in the country who have invested in a spinning cone column, which allows for the extraction and recovery of volatile compounds, including alcohol, without the need for excessive heat. And since the alcohol is removed at the end of fermentation, the active cultures can grow at their own pace, which results in authentic, delicious, and non-alcoholic Kombucha. They even employ an in-house microbiologist to analyze the safety and purity of their products.
An exciting recent addition to the Aqua ViTea lineup is AfterGlow Hard Kombucha. This is a smooth, tasty alternative to beer and cider and a more natural option than spiked seltzers. It’s organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, and made with only the finest sustainably sourced ingredients. While they do extract the alcohol from their traditional Kombucha, that alcohol is not used in creating AfterGlow. Instead, they let AfterGlow’s natural alcohol mature through fermentation and into the can – resulting in a mindfully made adult beverage.
Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on Bridport Creamery! Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of cheeses from August 26th – September 1st — just in time to kick off the Co-op’s Eat Local Challenge! Read on to learn more about this family-owned artisanal creamery hailing from the shores of Lake Champlain:
Nicole was born and raised on her third-generation family farm, Iroquois Acres, on the shores of Lake Champlain in Bridport, VT, where she grew up pitching in with all aspects of farm life. Established over 50 years ago, her family’s farm milks 325 cows on 1200 acres of farmland. Along with her brother and sister, Nicole has developed a well-known herd of 110 Brown Swiss cows, including 50 milking cows who are shown nationally and sold for breeding stock all over the world.
Upon graduating from high school, Nicole attended SUNY Cobleskill where she earned an Associate’s Degree in Agriculture Business. She then returned to the family farm where she managed the young stock and dairy herd for 8 1/2 years. Her husband Mark is a trained mechanic, and also grew up on the family-owned-and-operated Foster Brothers Farm in Middlebury. After their second child was born, they decided that two farms and two young children were too much to juggle. They relocated to Mark’s farm where they took over management of the milking herd. By the time both children reached school age, Nicole was ready for a change, so in 2009, she began taking classes at UVM through the Vermont Institute of Artisanal Cheese where she earned her Master Cheesemakers Certificate.
She has enjoyed carrying on the family dairy tradition by creating high-quality artisanal cheese products that are built around her own Swiss herd and unique to Bridport Creamery. Her gateway product was cheese curds — those fresh, squeaky, bite-sized bits of cheese that adorn the classic poutine and are so irresistible that it’s impossible to eat only one. Next up came “Swisserella” — a semi-hard, mild jack cheese with great melting properties, making it the perfect choice for mac and cheese or melting on a burger. The most recent addition to her lineup is a Colby-style cheese, semi-hard with a mild tang and a buttery flavor, which is great for melting and cooking or simply eating on a cracker.
I started on the board during a pivotal time in our nation, having my first zoom training with Glenn & Kate in June 2020.
In the same month, George Floyd was murdered. It brought light to a flame that is still burning—the Black Lives Matter movement. The world watched as a man screamed for life, his mother. and uttered his last words: “I can’t breathe”. Those 9 mins and 29 seconds caught on video shook the country, awakening awareness in some, and a reminder to others.
Some of us took to the streets to protest, others got more involved in their community, many just continued the work they were already doing, some ignored, and others remained numb. In our community, flames were caught. As a board, we began to discuss Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion–JEDI–as it related to the Co-op.
As we mapped out what it would look like, the board decided to create a committee that would lead the charge. In March of this year, I became Chair of the Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion (JEDI) Committee for the Middlebury Natural Foods Cooperative. Since becoming chair, I observed the committee’s eagerness and desire to act and came up with a plan. Seeing this eagerness, I took a step back and reflected. I wrestled internally as I asked myself how we can “be the change” in this new space. How do we move the focus from deliverables and concrete results to regrouping and starting inward? Can we do this alone? Do we need facilitators? How do we create a safe space so we can process & be honest? Where do we begin?
Thus, I heard the call – we began inward. This included a mix of activities that allowed us to work on our own biases hidden in plain sight. Our refocus became a process of unlearning together, learning together, sharing together, creating a safe space, to be honest, and process together.
As a committee, we continue to connect, build trust, and reflect. Our first step was a retreat this June where we created a safe space for everyone to reflect on their own privilege and experiences. As the facilitator, I lead by inviting everyone to be present, talk about their own privilege and fears around this work through a series of activities.
This is just the very beginning; we know this is the work of lifetimes to repattern and know ourselves first. We are invested in doing the work for ourselves, as a board, staff, and the Co-op. What will it look like years from now? We have no clue, but we are committed to showing up together to keep taking that first step over and over to do the work.
Esther Thomas is a Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board Member
We’re shining this week’s Member Deals Spotlight on a mission-driven local business creating innovative, award-winning products to help us curb our dependence on plastic — Bee’s Wrap®! From August 19th – 25th, all Bee’s Wrap® products are 20% off for member-owners, so it’s a great time to stock up on these reusable, rugged, eco-friendly, locally-made, fully compostable wraps. Read on to learn more about this local company, its mission, and its fierce advocacy:
Bee’s Wrap® was born in 2012 as its founder, Sarah Kaeck, was growing ever more deeply concerned about the persistent effect of plastics on our planet. She began by asking a simple question: How could we eliminate plastics in our kitchen in favor of a healthier, more sustainable way to store our food?
What she discovered was a lost tradition made new again. By infusing organic cotton with beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin, Kaeck created a washable, reusable, and compostable alternative to plastic wrap. What she also understood from the very beginning was that there must be a consideration of the entire life of the products we make and consume, from their creation and manufacturing to their eventual end. This is where biodegradability comes in: A product that is biodegradable can be easily returned to the earth. As their website states, “It’s a technology as old as time, and everything made in nature returns to nature with time. There’s no complicated recycling process, and no need to send your Bee’s Wrap® off to a special facility. Made from four simple ingredients, Bee’s Wrap® comes from the earth and is designed to return to the earth.” As your wrap begins to wear out, the team at Bee’s Wrap® hopes that you’ll look on those signs of wear as a welcome reminder of the natural cycles that surround us.
Looking beyond the impact of the products they create, Bee’s Wrap® is committed to using their business as a vehicle for social change, bettering the lives of their customers, employees, community, and the planet. As a proud B Corp and certified Green America company, Bee’s Wrap® is committed to social change to help better the lives of its customers, employees, community, and planet. In 2019 they were awarded Green America’s People and PlanetAward, which recognizes outstanding small businesses with deep commitments to social justice and environmental sustainability. They were also the 2019 recipient of B-Corp’s 2019 Best For The World: Environment award for the business’s top-notch attention to environmental stewardship. Bee’s Wrap® is actively working with partners such as 1% for the Planet, The Bee Cause, and The Rozalia Project, pledging their support to ocean conservancy, beach cleanups, and environmental stewardship. They’re also committed to donating at least 1% of sales of their Honeycomb Roll of Bee’s Wrap® to organizations supporting these efforts.
This past year brought big changes for Bee’s Wrap® as the business was sold to an undisclosed private investor. Since first founding the business back in 2012, Kaeck had overseen the growth of her company through the addition of dozens of employees, an expansion into a 12,000 square-foot facility in Middlebury, and she oversaw the company’s B Corp Certification. Bee’s Wrap® was growing, both nationally and internationally, and Kaeck was seeking an investor who could leverage the company’s successful track record into this new phase of growth. Kaeck stayed on as the CEO for the first few months of the transition, then handed over the reins to Tara Murphy in June of 2021. Murphy brings extensive experience to the role, having served for four years as Chief Executive Officer at Hinesburg-based Vermont Smoke & Cure and three previous years at Keurig Green Mountain.
In a recent press release, Kaeck says, “I could not be happier about the prospects for Bee’s Wrap’s future. I founded and led Bee’s Wrap for eight years with the goal to create a viable mainstream alternative to plastic, and we’re at that point now. Tara’s deep consumer product experience, outstanding leadership skills, and commitment to Vermont make her an excellent choice to continue to grow Bee’s Wrap in the years to come.”
Reducing the reliance on plastic takes time, and every effort you make counts. Whether you’re using Bee’s Wrap for on-the-go snacks or storing dinner leftovers, you’re one step closer to making it possible to ditch disposable food storage for good. Today, Bee’s Wrap® is a leading alternative to plastic wrap. From their headquarters right here in Middlebury, Vermont, they’re creating wraps that provide a versatile and durable solution for sustainable food storage.
Looking to reinvigorate your wellness routine? We invite you to check out Nordic Naturals, who is enjoying the glow of the Member Deals Spotlight this week! From August 12th – 18th, Co-op member-owners can enjoy a 20% discount on all Nordic Naturals products! Read on to learn more about this company’s origin and commitment to sustainability:
The Nordic Naturals story begins back in 1995 when Norwegian-born founder and CEO Joar Opheim moved to California to complete his MBA. Opheim noticed that the pure omega-rich cod liver oil that Norwegians rely on to stay healthy was nowhere to be found here in the U.S. Low-concentration fish oil with an awful taste was all the market had to offer, but Opheim knew he could make a difference. With each trip home, he would fill an extra suitcase with bottles of his favorite fish oil to share with friends in the U.S. This deep desire to share the power of pure, fresh omega-3 nutrients inspired Opheim to found Nordic Naturals and still drives the company today.
Nordic Natural’s mission states simply that “great things happen when values meet action.” They’re committed to delivering the world’s safest, most effective nutrients essential to health. It’s what motivates them to ensure that all of their products are research supported, expertly formulated, rigorously tested, proven effective, and best of all, great-tasting.
The team at Nordic Naturals believes that the future is about positive partnerships and sustainable best practices. They aspire to do right by the people and places that are part of their success, so giving back is a high priority. They do so by supporting local and global organizations that are making a positive impact now and for generations to come. Click here to view a list of the organizations they support.
All their fish oils are Friend of the Sea (FOS) Certified to guarantee that the fish used in their products comes from healthy fisheries. They’re sourced in line with strict standards for fishing methods, by-catch reduction, and social accountability.
Their LEED Gold-certified headquarters in California helps minimize the company’s impact on the earth and provides a comfortable, healthy workplace for their employees. Across the world, their plant in Arctic Norway is powered entirely by unused fats from the fish oil production process, a savings of resources in service to the planet.
To learn more about the importance of high-quality marine-sourced omega-3’s click here.
As a Co-op shopper, you likely pay close attention to the ingredients in the foods you choose to feed yourself and your family. Reading food product labels has likely become a common part of your shopping experience. But how many of us pay this much attention to the ingredients in the products we put on our bodies? The fact is, much of what we place on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream, thus it is equally important to become ingredient detectives when choosing personal care products. That’s why we love shedding some light on Middlebury’s own Texture Salon. They’re our featured Co-op Connection Business this month and we’re reminding member-owners that Texture Salon offers 10% off your first visit, whether you’re looking for products or services!
So, what sets Texture Salon apart?
Take it from salon owner, David Warner Jr.:
Since 2001 we have been committed to offering a new kind of salon experience where skin and hair care services are free of toxic ingredients (such as parabens, sodium laurel sulfates, talc, ammonia, formaldehyde, and other toxic agents), ethically- produced/ tested, sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Offering ammonia-free hair color (Chi and Organic colour systems), Karma Organic nail color, Deva Curl, Onesta, Soma, and a full line of Jane Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, at Texture Salon, we aim to provide a truly healthier, superior salon experience. Delicately synthesizing old and new technologies, we use localized air-purification systems, rock salt lamps, utilize state of the art color guru Beth Manardi Lighting, and natural plant power to enhance the breathing environment for our clients and staff, and restricting cell phone calls to maintain a serene and comfortable space for all. We support recycling, alternative energy, we have 35 solar panels providing us with power, and strongly oppose the use of animal-based products and testing.
Supporting our community is important to us. We host two Jane Iredale mineral cosmetics events each year to bring like-minded people together to mingle, share new tips and laugh. We also support local charities such as The United Way.
Whether it’s hair-coloring, highlights, or skincare, Texture Salon shows how caring for its clients can go hand-in-hand with caring for our environment. For a full list of services click HERE!
About the Texture Team:
David Warner, Jr. – Excited to begin his career, David graduated from O’Briens School of Cosmetology Class of 1994. His passion for hair color and cutting was quickly challenged when he discovered that he was allergic to many of the products used in mainstream beauty salons. Determined to stay in the field he loved, David opened Texture Salon in 2001. Using ammonia-free, organic, natural products and embracing local, small businesses, he has a special interest in investigating new, alternative hair products. David has studied with Farouk Systems for salons and trade shows and enjoys keeping up to date with hair shows and in-salon classes. “It’s important never to forget why I entered the beauty industry. To have a real connection with my client and make them feel good about themselves.” David has a special passion for corrective hair coloring and curly hair, as well as being certified in Chi Transformation straightening, he has attended the Deva Curl Academy in NYC. When he’s not making clients feel beautiful, he enjoys history documentaries, the peace and quiet of nature, working on his home improvements and traveling with his husband and their retired greyhound “Bruno”.
Andrea Lamphere is a graduate of Diorr’s Beauty College in Burlington, Vermont. She worked at salons in Burlington for seven years before opening her own shop in 1979. She attended the World Beauty Festival in London, England in 1982. After selling her salon in 1985, Andrea worked for a few salons in Middlebury before joining Texture Salon in 2006. A seasoned hairdresser with over 40 years in the beauty industry, Andrea strives to keep learning new techniques and has studied in Montreal, Boston, New York and London. She tries to attend at least 2 educational events per year and has done so for 42 years, keeping her clients current in today’s fashion.
JoAnna Carter is a native Vermonter and loves living here. She graduated from Salon Professional Academy in 2009 and has enjoyed her last 8 years as a stylist. JoAnna prides herself on custom cuts for men and women as well as the entire family, including small children. Never one to shy away from color, she is well versed in Texture’s full line of Chi and Organic Colors.