CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- A new face can be found at the Cambridge Food Co-op -- native resident Cory McMillan has taken over as manager of the nonprofit.
After a three-month trial period, board members at the co-op say McMillan has turned the business around.
"We threw every possible snag we could throw at him," said Susan Sullivan, president of the board of advisors. "He just very patiently and methodically went through and little by little corrected everything that was wrong."
The problems that the co-op faced stemmed from a power outage, which led to a heavy loss in product and equipment failures, according to Sullivan.
"He also inherited some huge bills and the previous manager left before we were able to hire him," said Sullivan, recalling a time not so long ago when members were managing to hold it together despite a lack of necessary experience.
Sullivan, who has been on the board since 2010 and served as president of the 11-member board since March, said she wished the former manager well, who moved to Maine with her family after eight years spent as a co-op employee.
"We are in very good financial shape now," said Sullivan. "Cory has great relationships with all the vendors and amazing listening skills. He's very open to input from the community."
McMillan grew up in Cambridge before moving to Boston for college, where he earned a degree in music production engineering. He stayed in the Boston area for nearly a decade, working in retail before becoming the head manager of Parks Paint and Hardware.
After moving home in 2006 with his wife Sarah, a teacher, McMillan worked as a manager at A&J Enterprises in Salem, N.Y. before joining the paint department of R.K. Miles in Manchester, Vt.
"In terms of healthy, local and natural foods -- we started to really value that for our own family," said McMillan. The couple have two daughters, ages 4 years and 8 months.
"As an organization that also fills a community need, and does it in a really responsible and local way, the co-op is great," said McMillan, noting he hopes to make a lifelong career in the town.
"It fits in perfectly with all the things I value in the world," said McMillan, explaining his desire to do the right thing. "Food is a way for us to fix so many things in our society," the new manager said, with a nod to politics and global warming.
Genetically modified, processed and industrially produced foods, most notably livestock, have been linked to cancer, nutritional deficits and environmental hazards, and led to an outpouring of money from large companies working to suppress stricter food regulations by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Cambridge Food Co-op provides local, organic produce and products to members as well as the public. Fresh cheeses and whole-grain breads, along with wild fish and pasture-raised beef can be found at the 1 West Main St. location. Gluten-free products, special and bulk orders and gift certificates are also available.
According to board member Peg Winship, a recent informal survey of co-op members found that a concern for healthy eating is the number one reason local residents shop there, followed by the strong feeling of community.
With more than 90 working members (who exchange up to four hours of their time per month for a discount on produce and other goods) and 200 supporting members, the co-op recently celebrated its 35th year open to the public.
Co-op hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Thursday till 8 p.m.) and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. All seniors receive a discount on Wednesday.
For more information, call 518-677-5731 or visit www.cambridgefoodcoop.com.
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