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Farewell, Andre!

Read Andre’s farewell letter after 14 years of service

After many wonderful years serving you, I will soon be leaving River Market to pursue a new career. In April I completed a full-stack web development bootcamp through the University of Minnesota and I am now pursuing a role in that field. Starting in the deli over fourteen years ago, I did not anticipate working at the co-op to be anything more than a part-time job. But there is a sense of community here that is a pleasure to experience. It consists of a latticework of connections between people and organizations, it is the soul of true cooperation, and an essential part of why River Market is a special place.

On a life-long quest for meaningful connections, one of the greatest sources of happiness, I have found them in abundance here. I have had the honor of getting to know the families growing and producing food in the St. Croix Valley, the people delivering that food, and the neighbors choosing to spend their food dollars here. It has been a privilege to work alongside the individuals that together form the organizations serving and strengthening our community: Valley Outreach, Family Means, Community Thread, Pollinator Friendly Alliance, and the Red Cross to name just a few. Our civic leaders, the downtown business community – the list of connections is nearly endless. Your co-op is rooted and active in our community.

The connections I’ve formed with co-workers and shoppers will stay with me forever. It is delightful to work with and serve many of the same people that were here when I started, and equally delightful to get to know someone new. A recent highlight for me has been creating the Growers, Grazers, Makers and Bakers grant program. You funded the program by rounding up at the registers and enabled us to support the projects of three local farms in our first year. Getting to visit these heroes and see their space, walk on their land and see where they toil to feed us was incredibly inspiring.

Growth gives us the opportunity to have even more positive impacts. As our co-op evolves to meet the changing needs of our community, be empowered by the knowledge your voice is just as important as every other voice, and gently admonished by the reminder your voice is no more important than any other voice. I share a fond nostalgia but believe it’s vital we embrace change as a personal and cultural value. There is no limit to what we can do together when we stop clinging to what was and have a positive, shared vision for the future.

I hope to connect with many of you in the store again before I leave. Sara has graciously given me the time and space to comfortably make this transition, and working for River Market has certainly raised my standards for a career. Time is so valuable, it’s vital to me to contribute toward something meaningful, to know I’m making a difference. Because that’s what this River Market community is doing together, all of us, as a cooperatively owned grocery store.