There was big news to share at the biannual membership meeting at Kensington Community Food Co-op.
Nearly five years after being named the general manager at the Kensington-based co-op, Mike Richards would be moving on from the position, his last day being Christmas Eve.
Stepping in to fill his shoes as interim general manager is Lauren Lyons, 32.
An Elkins Park resident, Lyons has been operations manager at KCFC since it opened its door in April 2019.
Lyons came across the posting for the position in February 2019, and had previously worked with Richards at Creekside Co-op in Elkins Park.
And, while Lyons doesn’t live in the area directly surrounding KCFC, she’s no stranger to the River Wards.
“Kensington means a lot to me, because although I grew up in Roxborough, I spent every summer in Fishtown and Kensington as a kid,” she said. “It’s where my sister lived, so we were running these streets as kids. It meant a lot to me to build something like this in an area that I know needs it.”
Creekside was Lyons’ introduction to the world of co-ops.
When it opened in 2012, Lyons was unemployed and had no idea what a co-op was.
“I started there working in the produce department and fell in love with co-ops almost immediately,” Lyons said.
After working in produce for a year, she was promoted to produce manager, a position she held two to three years before she was promoted to assistant store manager for the last year and a half it was open.
“So, I really just learned the ins and outs of co-ops and the business,” Lyons said.
With her new, temporary position, Lyons takes on a new set of responsibilities.
“The whole co-op is sort of in my hands and it feels very different,” she said. “I feel much more responsibility to ensure we’re successful and that every one here can keep their jobs.”
Lyons is dealing more with the financials of the co-op, including finding funding for the future.
The co-op currently has 1,501 members and no major changes will be made immediately, according to Lyons.
“Operationally, we’re trying to keep things fluid for the next few weeks,” Lyons said. “In February, you might notice some big changes. That’s when we’re really planning to change the store itself to be more shopper-friendly and have more products, and invest more locally.”
The board of directors voted Lyons as interim manager when Richards’ departure was announced.
Lyons took over the last week of December and a search has commenced to find a permanent general manager, which will take six to nine months.
Lyons anticipates applying for the position, but is happy to continue growing the co-op regardless of her role.
“We’ve certainly had our struggles as a co-op, and coming up, we’re going to have some more freedom to make a better store and have more products available to people,” Lyons said.
For those who have never been or stopped coming, Lyons has a simple request.
“I would encourage people to come check us out in the next few months. And, people should give us another shot if they’ve lost interest,” she said. “We’re going to look to the members to see what they want. We’re excited to be collaborating and building a better co-op for the community.”
Kensington Community Food Co-op, 2670 Coral St., is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. For updates, visit kcfc.coop.